Black men to unite during annual Fatherhood Initiative Summit
What do younger and older Black men, rappers, Internet social media like Facebook and Twitter, a video contest, the Milwaukee Bucks and the game of basketball have in common?
They’ll all converge, Friday and Saturday, October 8-9 at Greater New Birth Church for the fifth annual 2010 Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative Summit. Greater New Birth Church is located at 8201 W. Silver Spring Drive.
The highlight of this year’s summit, the theme of which is, “Empowered Fathers: Bridging the Gap,” is an intergenerational discussion between younger and older men that will examine the communication gap that exists between the two groups.
“We want to bring these two groups together—older and younger men—to talk about things other than sports,” said Terence Ray, director of the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative, in a recent interview. “Sit them down together and get past the stereotypes and distrust and talk to each other.
“(We need to) develop trust among Black men so they can become leaders in the community,” added Ray, who noted that there will be four more “conversations” between Black men taking place going into 2011.
Ray intimated the second conversation—post-summit—will focus on young fathers and non-fathers talking to each other about the challenges and joys of fatherhood and how to prevent becoming fathers.
Ironically, its sports—specifically basketball—that will be the catalyst for the two-day event. This year’s summit will have a basketball flavor; everything from the opening “tip-off” (jump ball) to the “final buzzer” (closing ceremony).
All aspects of the event will be described using basketball terminology that men/fathers understand. Each workshop or session will be titled with sports lingo to engage men in critical discussions that are applicable on the “court of life.”
The Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative is partnering with SERVE Marketing, the country’s only all-volunteer, nonprofit advertising agency. SERVE is known for its cutting-edge “in-your-face” behavior-changing public service campaigns for local and national non-profits on issues ranging from teen homelessness, child sexual abuse, shaken baby syndrome and statutory rape.
It was SERVE’s style—the “shock value”—that attracted Ray and motivated him to approach the agency and its founder Gary Mueller to come up with campaign that would attract Black men—especially fathers—at a grassroots level.
As a result, Mueller and his agency has developed a strategy that meets Ray’s vision for the summit that gets males 17 to 35 involved in the Initiative and learn the importance of fatherhood and the need to “man-up” for the sake of the children they helped bring into the world.
On September 29, the Fatherhood Initiative and SERVE launched a promotion for the summit that unveiled its “Get at You” video contest.
Local rappers Ray Nitti and Yung Oki recorded their own “Get At You” videos. On the videos, the rappers discussed such issues as condom use, respecting women, and the most important things to know about healthy relationships. Both rappers will participate in a panel discussion during the summit.
The Initiative hopes the rap stars’ videos will spur summit attendees to participate in the “Get At You” video contest that will kick-off at the summit on October 9. Male attendees will have an opportunity to put a raw yet positive message on video in 30 seconds or less and upload them to Facebook and other social media outlets.
The first 200 participants to record a “Get At You” video during he summit will receive an official NBA Milwaukee Bucks basketball and tickets for courtside seats at a Bucks game. Following the summit, community residents will have a chance to upload their own positive message.
Judges will pick their favorite message and it will be put into PSA rotation on local stations. The winner receives an iPad and the runners up win an iTouch.
Mueller said the videos help get the conversation on issues impacting fathers beyond the four walls of the conference and onto the computers of everyone in the city and community.
“(Imagine) 500 to 1,000 friends on Facebook uploading the (“Get At You”) videos. They can hit 100,000 people—not just men but women too,” Mueller said during an interview.
Radio station V-100 and Channels 18 and 24 will carry the videos on their respective websites which, Mueller said, have their own huge followings, thus multiplying the “hits” the video receives from 75,000 to 100,000 people before the videos are posted anywhere else.
“This will grow exponentially,” Mueller said.
“We’re bringing the videos to the people where they dialogue,” Mueller said. “It’s a way to bring the new media world into the summit.”
“Nothing has ever been done like this in the Black community nationally,” Ray stressed. “The potential (of using social networking during and for the summit) is enormous.
Local filmmakers and IT experts and webmasters are donating all the time and equipment for the videos. There will also being individuals with Flip Cams and iTouches roaming the summit site and on the street collecting footage that will be uploaded at the summit onto the Internet.
On Thursday, October 7, the Fatherhood Initiative and the Christian Association for Prison Aftercare (CAPA) will host a special event that will address the issue of prisoner re-entry for both men and women.
There will be an open discussion with and for returning citizens, legislative updates on prison re-entry. The event is open to the public for men, women and those individuals interested in working with prison re-entry.
The MFI/CAPA event will be at Greater New Birth and will start at 1 p.m. with a general session that will have two video presentations highlighting the obstacles—and triumphs—experienced by individuals returning home from prison.
There will be workshops throughout the day, as well as an informational resource room.
For more information about the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative and to register for the Fatherhood summit, go to milwaukeefatherhood.com
August 19, 2012 //
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