Good News Friday: “Project Fatherhood” helps L.A. gang members become better Dads. Devon Still brings down the house with a moving speech. And the sleeping bag that saves babies’ lives

 

projectfatherhood

And a Happy Friday to you! While I slowly try to contemplate living in a world where the best freaking show on television, FX’s “The Americans” AGAIN got snubbed by the stupid Emmy voters (though I was thrilled “Transparent” and “Kimmy Schmidt” and “Better Call Saul” got recognized), I bring you three stories of goodness and joy for Good News Friday.

The first story was one of those NPR pieces that they used to call “Driveway Moments,” the kind of gripping tale that made you stay in your home driveway for a few more minutes because, even though you were steps away from being in your house, you had to hear the end of the story.

This was a Fresh Air Terry Gross interview with a sociologist from UCLA named Jorga Leap and a former L.A. gang member named Michael Cummings were on talking about “Project Fatherhood,” a fantastic five-year-old initiative that’s turning lives around in Watts, California, one of the most dangerous and depressed areas in America.

What “Project Fatherhood” does is take inner-city Watts gang members or ex-gang members who have children and teach them, one step at a time, how to be a better parent. Many of these men had no male role models at all as kids, which is one of the reasons their lives went toward criminal behavior.

Led by Cummings, a reformed gang member who’s now a church pastor, and Dr. Leap, the group meets regularly for intense, sometimes emotional conversations about when or when it’s not appropriate to discipline their child, how to make breakthroughs in communication, and the chronic pressures of unemployment and poverty in a place where the jobless rate for men is as high as 50 percent.

There are small incentives for the men; if they go to four meetings, they get a $25 gift card to a restaurant that they have to spend on an outing with their son.

It’s a fantastic program; after hearing the interview I did some research on the group and they’re having tremendous success re-connecting fathers with their kids. Check out their website here.

**Speaking of fathers, how about Devon Still? He’s the Cincinnati Bengals football player whose little daughter Leah was dying of cancer last season, and because the Bengals showed some class, they kept Still, a marginal talent, on the roster so he could receive excellent health insurance for his child.

Leah Still is doing better now, and Devon stood up at the ESPYs Wednesday night and gave a beautiful, touching speech, thanking so many for letting him tell his story (seriously, he even thanked the media, and no one does that anymore). It’s a heartfelt speech featuring a great surprise at the end.

What a class act Devon Still is.

**Finally today, a fantastic invention is saving the lives of babies. It’s called an Embrace infant warmer, and it’s being used in developing countries to allow newborns to regulate their own body temperatures in the crucial early moments of life.

It was developed by Stanford MBA’s, and provides the same results as an incubator, but for one percent of the cost. And according to this story on Unworthy.com, it could help more than 20 million (20 million!) premature and underweight babies each year.

Fantastic stuff.

 

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