Catch up on what D.A.D.S. members have to say...<
The Magic of D.A.D.S.Not long ago, I was gathering D.A.D.S. data, statistics, and growth percentages and compiling a list of programmatic and structural measurable results and deliverable outcomes (or - maybe it was the other way around). I was preparing for the arrival of a grant application for D.A.D.S. National. I was surprised (and relieved) when only two simple questions were asked:
What are your dreams for D.A.D.S.?
What is the magic of D.A.D.S.?
The first is simple. I want a D.A.D.S. program to be a part of EVERY Down syndrome organization.
The second made me think and reflect. I’ll share my thoughts.
Over the past eighteen months, D.A.D.S. National has put tremendous emphasis on Policy. We’ve seen tremendous results. Most D.A.D.S. groups are taking advantage of our Policy Toolkit. Learning and relearning “the system” has become a part of monthly meetings: D.A.D.S. members across the country are actively involved in the NDSS Ambassador program. In fact, many D.A.D.S. members are directly responsible for adding Co-sponsors to the ABLE Act. Hundreds of fathers have participated in our Policy-driven webinar training. An understanding that advocacy must include political action and involvement is growing. Our efforts were recognized in February when D.A.D.S. National received the NDSS Champion of Change award.
While I certainly want this momentum to continue, I don’t want to lose sight of “Support” and “Fellowship” while putting too many eggs in the “Action” basket.
The magic of D.A.D.S. requires ALL THREE ingredients in relatively equal amounts.
Now in our eleventh year, D.A.D.S. has certainly evolved as a program. Solid, proven ideas have developed to ensure success as Down syndrome organizations implement D.A.D.S. as a valuable and valued committee within their organization. Not only has the model of D.A.D.S. groups changed, the delivery method has too. In contrast to our early years, D.A.D.S. groups have a much higher rate of success and sustainability.
Some things have changed---some things have not, should not and will not!
“To assist and Support, through Fellowship and Action, the Fathers and Families of individuals with Down syndrome”
Improving the tactics and strategies for D.A.D.S. groups is a process of identifying what works and what doesn’t and sharing the information. What has NEVER changed and is still crucial to the success of the D.A.D.S. program are these simple points:
• Let the mission be your “litmus test”
• Place equal value on the foundational pillars of Support, Fellowship and Action.
• Create a network of fathers willing to develop the program based on the needs of the men involved, within the framework of the local Ds organization
• Enhance a father’s knowledge and resources about children and individuals with Down syndrome
• Enhance personal advocacy skills
• Heighten each family’s ability to cope with the unique challenges of raising a child with Down syndrome
• Provide a safe atmosphere of support where men can openly share
• Have fun and build camaraderie and friendships among fathers
The job of D.A.D.S. National is to manage and protect the D.A.D.S. brand, provide resources to D.A.D.S. groups and work to launch D.A.D.S. groups in all Down syndrome communities. This is a necessary and valuable function, but, it’s structural and business-like, not personal and magical.
The D.A.D.S. magic happens on the second Tuesdays, third Wednesdays and fourth Thursdays each month in Fort Worth, Denver, Jacksonville and whenever and wherever D.A.D.S. groups meet to share what they know, learn what they don’t and implement the mission and accomplish the goals of D.A.D.S.
The magic happens when D.A.D.S. groups host activities for families in their Down syndrome community. Families, led by fathers wearing D.A.D.S. hats and tee shirts--- fishing, hiking, going to ball games or grilling hotdogs and burgers is magic.
D.A.D.S. members, working as a team to lift, move, load and unload supplies for their organizations walk, picnic or event----with a promise of a cold beverage at the end of the shift is part of the magic.
Taking ownership of an event or project to raise funds to benefit people with Down syndrome is work, but the results spread the magic.
Moving the chains through advocacy to protect and advance the civil rights of our child and others with Down syndrome is not only magic---it’s our responsibility and I’ll continue to challenge and remind D.A.D.S. groups and members it is a shared responsibility .
I know these examples are magical because I’ve been a recipient of many, many magical moments.
I can reach in a file and pull out several studies which validate the benefits of “resource enrichment programming” for fathers of children with disabilities.
I’d rather just go to a D.A.D.S. meeting or event and FEEL the magic.
If you’ve not been to your local D.A.D.S. groups’ meeting in a while, I encourage you to become re-engaged. The magic is still there.
D.A.D.S. leaders---Remember---the magic needs to be built. D.A.D.S. National has the tools, BUT---assembly is required. Ask for help and use the tools and resources.
If your local Down syndrome organization doesn’t yet have a D.A.D.S. program---we can fix that, too---just like magic!
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