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Dads show up, hand in hand with their kids, for Northeast Ohio's annual Fathers Walk

The popular walk was inspired by research that shows the positive impact the presence of an involved father has on his child's academic success.

Hand in hand with their kids, dads showed up in droves at schools and early childhood programs for the annual Fathers Walk, held Sept. 23 throughout Cuyahoga County and beyond.

3News cameras captured nearly 100 fathers walking down Richmond Road and into the Richmond Heights Local Schools campus, where they had breakfast with their children and received a gift book. They also heard a brief message from the Cuyahoga County Fatherhood Initiative on ways fathers can support their children throughout their educational journey.

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The purpose of the annual walk is to encourage fathers and other male mentors to play an active role in their child’s education. “Giving dads resources and providing them with an outlet to gather is critical to the success of students today,” said Renee Willis, Richmond Heights Local Schools superintendent.

Similar scenes played out at schools across Northeast Ohio, including at Madison Community Elementary, a charter school with about 250 students on Cleveland’s West Side.

At Madison Community Elementary, they call it “The Gentlemen Walk” and make a point of inviting male role models and mentors as well as dads to participate, said school counselor Kinyatta Taylor.

Each gentleman received a gift bag and took a picture with their student, she said. “Students are so proud on this day, just to be supported by an adult. It boosts self-esteem and confidence in their education.”

The countywide walk has become an annual tradition since it was introduced in 2006. It was created in response to research that shows father and male involvement is essential to promoting good classroom behavior, better grades and higher educational attainment levels and enjoyment of school and learning.

Sponsors of the walk include Passages, Global Parenting Network, the Cuyahoga County Fatherhood Initiative (CCFI), the Healthy Fathering Collaborative and others.