ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - A life lesson is at play at Melrose Elementary in St. Petersburg. It’s one that not only benefits students, but also some special guests -- their dads.
"Being a dad is the most important job I have," said Anthony Davis.
It’s so important that Davis came straight to the school after working an overnight shift for the priceless opportunity of bonding time with his twin boys.
"That's the best part of being a dad to me just that smile on their face when they see you being active in their life and in their school,” he continued.
Coaching the group is Mark Baker. He's a volunteer team captain with All Pro Dad. "My involvement here is to help the school and the families find ways to engage to benefit their children.”
All Pro Dad is a mission for Hall of Famer and former Tampa Bay Bucs head coach Tony Dungy. The idea came about in 1997 while he was coaching for the Bucs.
"A lot of our coaches were struggling with time management and how could we spend time with our kids and still get our jobs done," said Dungy. "We came over and visited with Mark Merrill of Family First. He had some ideas for us and they seemed to help us and we thought boy it would be great to get this idea out to other dads. We're sure a lot are struggling with the same thing. So we came up with the idea to have a day at Pepin Rood, bring their kids to the stadium for a little Bucs practice.”
The interest was larger than they could have imagined.
"We said, ‘Hey we might be on to something.’ Men, football; put it together. So that's how the idea came up and then we got some all-pro players and just said, ‘Hey give us a tip on parenting, your best parenting advice.’ Guys were interested in hearing from these football players -- what they did to be better parents, what their dads did to be better fathers. So it kind of took off from there,” continued Dungy.
The program is now offered in schools all over the country.
"Every time I travel, I get men coming up to me in airports and say, ‘Gosh we started All Pro Dad at our school. It's been the greatest thing.’ So it's really been gratifying to see that it's really connecting men with their kids better," said Dungy.
And children without a father aren't left out.
"Unfortunately not every child has a dad that's active in their lives so we encourage moms to come to the meetings," Baker said. "At our meeting today, we had grandparents, we had uncles, we had stepfathers that were here. We have mentors come.”
The program recently honored Florida foster care families who go above and beyond.
"They really are heroes," offered Mark Merrill, the president of Family First.
Davis credits All Pro Dad with helping him build a stronger foundation with his kids. "They're real upbeat about the program. They love it. They love to talk about it. They love to talk about school. They love to talk about learning and just being a big family.”
LINK: For more information about the All Pro Dad program, visit: http://www.allprodad.com/