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Family at Father Knows Best event. (Photo by LETICIA BARBOZA)
Father Knows Best

A television show in the 1950s was called ‘Father Knows Best.’ Through a program that is part of the NYCHA Fatherhood Initiative, a number of NYCHA youth learned just how much their fathers know.

Fathers and sons running basketball drills. (Photo by LETICIA BARBOZA)

The Father Knows Best – Faith, Integrity, Sacrifice, Leadership and Legacy (FISLL) Program encourages fathers to take a more active role in their children’s lives, especially their sons.  The program allows fathers to bond with their children through workshops to discuss the five principles of FISLL and basketball instruction.

George Darden from Berry Houses in Staten Island participated with three boys he is a father figure to – his son, Michael; his girlfriend’s son, Ray; and his girlfriend’s nephew who also is her foster son, Shawn. “The program gave them a chance to listen to stories about how important a father figure is in their lives, without it sounding like preaching coming from me,” Mr. Darden said.

One of the principles of FISLL is integrity, which Mr. Darden considers very important. “School comes first,” he said. “Even if they love basketball, bad grades means no basketball.”

The program is the result of a collaboration of NYCHA Community Operations; the Allan Houston Legacy Foundation, led by the former New York Knick; the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development; and Project Hospitality. Mr. Darden said he would like to see more programs like Father Knows Best–FISLL. “A mother can raise them to a certain point, but it’s very important to have that father or mentor to teach them how to be a man or to be a father someday,” he said.

Father Knows Best–FISLL was held at the Gerard Carter Center at Stapleton Houses in Staten Island from March to May, ending with a closing ceremony on May 12. But just because their Saturdays no longer are filled with FISLL does not mean those days won’t still be spent together. “We’ll be on the basketball court at Berry every Saturday anyway,” Mr. Darden said.

George Darden kept a diary about his experience in the Father Knows Best–FISLL program. Here is one excerpt:

April 7, 2012

This week we got a chance to talk about “Faith” and what that means on and off the basketball court. We did exercises and explained the real meaning of “Faith” and how important it is to have it in your father and teammates as well. We also explained how important it is for the father to have that very same “Faith” in them and reward them and tell them “I knew you could do it, I had Faith in you the whole time!” The one thing I always tell my sons is that, “If you don’t stand and believe in something, you’ll fall for anything.”

By Eric Deutsch 
June 12, 2012

NYCHA Fatherhood Initiative
Photos of the Fathers & Sons Closing Ceremony (Flickr)