The Geared Up Dads advisory council plans to restart its reading and mentoring programs for young men and boys in local schools and hopes to expand to all the schools in the district.

Geared Up Dads, a program that focuses on fatherhood and mentoring young men and boys, was established in August of 2015 by Jill Nelson as a new component of the Delivering Change: Healthy Moms-Healthy Babies initiative.

Their mission is to strengthen families in Geary County by building a community network, providing educational opportunities, making connections and empowering fathers.

Alex Tyson, County Commissioner and Fatherhood Coordinator for Delivering Change, said he started working with Geared Up Dads in 2016 as a volunteer and established the reading and mentoring programs to accompany the events they already had in place. Approximately 300 young men and boys have participated in their reading or mentoring programs. Among those the programs and classes have encouraged and mentored are many new and expectant fathers.

“Men are an especially important pillar in the structure of growth of a child,” Tyson said. “We are eager to present a proposal for a mentoring program in the High School.”

During the pandemic, the organization donated books to area schools so teachers could continue the reading program with their students. They had to close the programs during the pandemic but are restarting them as of Nov. 3.

The organization restarted its “Becoming a Dad” classes for the public and the 24/7 Dad curriculum in the local jail, along with mentorship in the Juvenile Detention facility. Soon, the advisory council plans to continue working in the local schools with their mentoring and reading programs in which men in the community volunteer to be role models and mentors to young men and boys. These men help the youngsters navigate through their life and encourage them when they meet obstacles along the way.

They provide support and enrichment through a reading program and support network, using the book, “Heroes For My Son.” In the Pre-K through First Grade classes, they offer a program called “Reading with Kiddos,” using the Howard B. Wigglebottom books, in which the kids learn about early skills such as courage and listening.

The schools that have implemented Geared up Dads reading and mentoring programs have experienced an increase in positive behavior change and fewer discipline problems in the students who participate. Once the young men and boys complete the program, they have the opportunity to be role models for their peers.

Some of the events the organization has done are: The Brandon Stroda Fishing Derby, a Reading Program using the book, “Heroes for My Son,” donating books to schools, Pajamas and pigtails event, Adopt-a-Kid Christmas Toy Drive, and “Becoming a Dad” Classes.

A “Donuts with Dads” event will soon be coming to some of the local schools to encourage fathers to participate in the program, Tyson said.

To learn more about the Geared up Dads program, how to participate, donate or volunteer, contact Alex Tyson at alex.tyson@gearycounty.org or by phone at 785-238-4300 x2266.

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