The Fathers and Sons Evaluation Project, based in Flint, Michigan, was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a core project of the Youth Violence Prevention Center, Prevention Research Center of Michigan from 2003 to 2008. The Principal Investigator was Cleopatra Caldwell, University of Michigan School of Public Health and the Community Co-Principal Investigator was E. Hill De Loney, Flint Odyssey House Health Awareness Center.
Memorybooks are given to each family to collect photographs and written materials that represent the experiences that the fathers and sons have had in the program. The fathers and sons create culturally inspired products during the sessions, and as part of their homework assignments. These accomplishments can be publicly displayed, an experience that is especially affirming for the sons.
To build a sense of pride and unity in the program, an Adinkra symbol is selected by each group and placed on a T-shirt that is given to all participants and staff. Adinkra symbols are African designs representing specific values. One group, for example, selected the symbol meaning, "Love does not get lost on the way home," while another selected, "The human being is not like the palm tree that is self-sufficient." Participants wear these shirts during the graduation ceremony, where their extended families are invited to share their accomplishments.
The Fathers and Sons Steering Committee and staff developed the program curriculum using a community-based participatory process. This collective effort has been invaluable in helping us understand and address issues vital to the creation of a culturally relevant intervention, as well as challenges in recruiting and retaining participants.
The Fathers and Son Evaluation Project served and collected data from approximately 300 intervention and comparison families. The project will work to disseminate the curriculum in other communities and provide technical assistance to help them implement the project.