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Palm Coast Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 3 years ago

Family bonding: Father starts All Pro Dad chapter at Old Kings Elementary

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Chris Bruce, father of an OKES second-grader, wants to help local fathers and father figures engage with their kids' lives at school.
by: Paige Wilson Community Editor

Chris Bruce is on a mission to provide a platform for kids and their fathers to connect.

Chris Bruce and his son, Keegan Bruce, stand in front of Old Kings Elementary, where Chris recently started an All Pro Dads chapter to help local fathers engage with their kids' school lives. Photo by Paige Wilson

"Most of the time, in today's society, the mothers are typically involved in the children's schoolwork; they're on point," he said. "The fathers tend to try to forget about that and focus more on the fun and the discipline."

The Palm Coast resident is the father of Old Kings Elementary second-grader Keegan Bruce. Chris started the OKES chapter of All Pro Dad after his wife, Annie Bruce, who works at Florida Virtual School, gave him the idea since FLVS has a chapter.

Chris said that OKES Assistant Principal Nick Schell also encouraged him to start the chapter at Old Kings so students could benefit from quality time with their fathers.

At the first meeting on Nov. 17, 30 students and father figures attended.

"I like to have time to hang out with my dad because he goes to work, and it's a long time," Keegan said about the first meeting.

Chris said a noteworthy table at the meeting included three students, the children's biological father and their stepfather. 

"I don't know if there's any animosity between them or not, but if there is, it's nice to see they put that to the side and realized that they're there for the kids," Chris said.

While the second meeting on Dec. 15 had a smaller turnout of about 16 students and fathers, Chris is hopeful for the first meeting of the new year on Jan. 19 at 7:45 a.m. in the OKES media center. Breakfast will be provided. Fathers of OKES students can register at allprodadsday.com/chapters/10810/chapter_meetings/25370.

At the start of each meeting, the fathers stand up and say, "I'm proud of (student) because (reason)" to set a positive environment. There's also an interactive activity for the fathers and students to do, as well as a thought-provoking curriculum.

"That's the whole goal: to get the fathers involved in the students' lives at school," Chris said.

While the curriculum is geared more toward male role models, Chris said the group doesn't push anyone away.

"If a mother were to come, they're more than welcome to sit down and engage with their students as well," he said.

Chris said he hopes other schools in Flagler County will be inspired to start their own chapters.

Visit allprodadsday.com/chapters/10810.

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