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PTA Blog Talk

The Fathers Network - Part One

Published March 25, 2009 8:02 PM by Jason Marketti
I recently spoke with Greg Schell and James May about The Fathers Network and how they serve their community in the state of Washington. The Fathers Network began in 1978 at the University of Washington for fathers raising children with special needs.

Schell is the director of the Washington State Fathers Network and co-founder of The Fathers Network. He provides a starting point for fathers who need direction about their child's needs. 

"There are many concerns that the fathers have, but one of the biggest is whether they are able to address the issues that will arise when dealing with a child with special needs," Schell said.   

He went on to say, "Some dads get overwhelmed and we work on the health of the family. We have programs that incorporate siblings, grandparents, and an 8-week course called ‘Unexpected Journey' for couples to attend."

May spent 18 years with fathers whose children have special needs. The focus was a men's group to help fathers cope and understand their own complications when dealing with a child who has special needs. 

"Humor is part of the process," May said, "It can take the pressure off and most guys can relate to some of the situations about a child that is funny."

When asked about a shift in the expectations the fathers have of their child, May said, "Hopes and dreams are built off of expectations. Most men feel crushed for a while as the future they planned for their child seems dashed. Working with other men helps men redefine their values and plans for their children. They also learn to become a different man, husband and father-probably more likable than the one that existed before. This is extremely exciting to see. It takes time and insight."

I will continue with their journey in the coming weeks.

Greg Schell and James May can be reached by calling 425-653-4286 or visiting http://www.fathersnetwork.org/


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About this Blog

    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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