Fathering from the beginning: MenCare partner launches fatherhood campaign in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico

Four posters from the Papá Activao (Active Dad) campaign.

In recent years, communities and countries around the world have begun to perceive fatherhood differently. They are leaving behind the stereotype of “fathers as breadwinners” and emphasizing the active involvement of fathers and other male caregivers – like stepfathers, grandfathers, uncles, and old brothers – in the lives of children. Fatherhood campaigns, like MenCare, are raising awareness internationally about men’s positive, equitable involvement in the lives of their partners and children, and Puerto Rico is now part of the movement.

In Puerto Rico, the Municipality of Vega Baja’s SePARE program, along with the participants of its fathers’ groups known as Encuentros: Hombres-Padres (or “Men-Parents Meetings”), has launched a new fatherhood campaign to promote awareness of the importance of active, inclusive fatherhood from the very beginning, starting from the prenatal period onward.

“We’re giving this local campaign the title #PapáActivao (#ActiveDad). Through it, we join forces with the international campaign MenCare, that has the participation of countries like Brazil, Guatemala, Portugal, Bulgaria, Mozambique, among others,” SePARE Director Javier Morales said.

“The Men-Parents participants are the stars of this campaign by contributing their experiences with their children. They have made clear the importance of this campaign as part of involving men in the process of upbringing and development of children,” Javier added.

To date, the campaign has launched seven posters featuring images and quotes from fathers actively involved in the Men-Parents Meetings:

“Being a dad goes beyond being a provider. It’s making her toys to play with, spending time with her, including her in my day-to-day life,” says Caleb Viana of his relationship with his daughter Patricia, age 4.

“Being a father to Ysat has been a growth opportunity, rather than an obligation, as others may think. When it comes to discipline, we like to do everything gently, with love,” says Anthony González, a student and father of Ysat, age 1.

The campaign, which has the slogan: “I’m a man, I’m a dad, I’m happy” was disseminated through social media on June 20. In August, it launched in print in schools. Within the public school system, the campaign has the support of the Office of Head Start Collaboration, which is part of Fortalezas’s Office of Social Welfare and Culture.

“Both mothers and fathers play an essential role in development and wellbeing. The Early Head Start and Head Start programs offer comprehensive services for early childhood and promote responsible parenthood as key to the complete development in the early years. To transform the lives of our children and their parents requires the support of the communities in which they live and the services they offer. Programs such as Early Head Start, Head Start, and SePARE are effective tools that support Puerto Rican families. We support SePARE’s effort with this campaign and we encourage other agencies to cooperate with the campaign to contribute to a positive transformation in our communities,” said Alejandra Álvarez Ibáñez, Puerto Rico’s Head Start Collaboration Office Director.

Participants in SePARE fathers’ group learn about different ways to carry their babies during their monthly meeting.
Participants in SePARE fathers’ group learn about different ways to carry their babies during their monthly meeting.

Men-Parents Meetings take place on the first Saturday of each month at 3pm at SePARE’s offices in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. These meetings are free and open to all men who are or plan to become parents, or who are somehow involved in parenting.

SePARE is a promotion and prevention program of the Municipal Government of Vega Baja, funded by Puerto Rico’s Administration of Socioeconomic Development of the Family, providing services to expectant families, including prenatal classes, support groups, and coordinated services (e.g., social workers, psychologists, board-certified lactation consultants). For additional information about SePARE program services and the campaign, call +1 787 855 0025 or write to separe.vegabaja@gmail.com. Learn more on Facebook at Facebook.com/SeParir.