Rebuilding relationships between inmates and their daughters.
A program started by the nonprofit group Camp Diva to help build relationships between fathers and daughters is becoming a national sensation. Named “A Dance of Their Own,” this unique program gives incarcerated fathers the opportunity to participate in a father-daughter dance, and begin repairing relationships with the daughters who need and love them.
According to the Washington Post, the idea came about during a group conversation at Camp Diva, which is a Richmond-based program that works to empower African-American girls. Angela Patton, the head of Camp Diva said, “[The idea] was born when a girl said she felt left out because her father was locked up.” It occurred to Patton then that “These girls need their fathers, too.” So she approached Richmond City Sheriff C.T. Woody with the idea, and was surprised when he said yes. Patton says,
The goal of these dances was to bring fathers and daughters together…for the daughters’ sake. But what we found last year, in 2012, when we entered the Richmond City Jail for that first dance, and what we’ve seen since “Date with Dad” has been offered, is that the dads are also profoundly affected.
Sheriff Woody agrees. The veteran homicide detective said, “People may think it’s crazy to have this in a jail. But it builds respect. You wouldn’t believe what it does for these men’s confidence to dress them up. So this dance can have a ripple effect.” However, the dances are not just about throwing the fathers and daughters together with some punch and cookies. The opportunity to participate is only open to some of the inmates. Only nonviolent offenders are eligible, and those fathers who are interested must first be interviewed by a jail deputy, have their criminal histories reviewed, and they must also receive permission from the girls’ mother. Inmates who are selected to participate must also take a “fatherhood class” where they explore how to become the fathers they want to be, and their children deserve.
As the Post points out, “Historically, the father-daughter dances have been used to help American families reunite. They became widespread in the U.S. after WWII as a way to reintegrate men into family life.” Sheriff Woody said it’s to early to know “whether this dance will have a lasting impact, but it’s a start.”
A Kickstarter account has been created to help generate funding for a documentary about this one-of-a-kind program. You can read about “Locked In NOT Locked Out (A Father-Daughter Dance in Prison)” here.
Thank you @DeeshaPhilyaw for the tip on this story!