Our United Voice

Dads Matter...A Lot!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Shawn Gardner
President & Founder
2Not1 Fatherhood & Families
Years ago when I was out in the community with my four daughters I was often asked, "are you babysitting?", "where’s mom" or something of that nature. I guess they thought there was no way I could actually just be doing what dads do. In tandem with that reoccurring scenario, I talked with another young father that prompted a workshop-type discussion in our community around fatherhood. It soon became evident that there were support services provided to moms that would have benefited this dad’s efforts to be a better father too.

These conversations led to a partnership with Neighborhood Place to provide a series of fatherhood workshops in our community. Dads learned parenting skills, the community benefited from the insight gained from the discussions, and I recognized my calling for founding an organization to advocate for fathers and to strengthen families - 2NOT1.

For years 2NOT1 has been working to strengthen families in the Louisville community through increasing fathers' involvement. This is important to us because research shows children do better when dads are an active and positive part of their lives: decreased high school dropout rates and juvenile delinquency, and in the case of teenage daughters, fewer teenage pregnancies. Even when parents are no longer together the ability to work together as a team produces better outcomes for children.

While there are many programs 2NOT1 uses to help educate fathers on paternal parenting, equally important are the engagement activities which 2NOT1 uses to raise awareness about the importance of fatherhood. During the year “Dads Make A Difference” workshops provide opportunities for fathers to learn skills specific to fathers, co-parenting strategies, and gain insightful resources such as employment training and job leads. This is a partnership with Healthy Start, an organization for mothers providing support for successful pregnancies.

On Father’s Day, 2NOT1 provides an opportunity for fathers and families to spend quality time together during a Father’s Day Picnic at Shelby Park with no cost to families. And 2NOT1’s newest program, Rites of Passage, works with young boys of color in 4th - 7th grades, supporting them through the transitional period between elementary and middle school, increasing the odds of graduating high school.
Like many organizations, 2NOT1 exists because of the support of our community. Ongoing relationships with Metro Government, Plymouth Community & Renewal Center, New Song Christian Church, and Louisville Metro Housing Authority make this work possible. And our newest partnership with Metro United Way is helping 2NOT1 grow the Rites of Passage program to include more young boys of color who are missing the support so many other children benefit from. This is part of a community-wide initiative to help boys and young men of color succeed. Follow and use this hashtag to find out more about this important work: #BMALouisville.

Together through our partnerships, and 2NOT1’s veracious push to strengthen families, the mission to “promote the safety and well-being of children, by implementing strategies to keep fathers involved, and families together” is more prevalent than ever!

With more than a decade of problem solving experience and a Master of Science degree in Conflict Management, Shawn Gardner has developed a keen insight of how to analyze a problem and develop ways to solve them. As a father of four daughters, a community activist, a fatherhood advocate, a Leadership Louisville Bingham Fellow, and a successful author of his memoir “Me vs. Me Volume: 1," Shawn has used his multiple talents to start a non-profit organization, 2NOT1: Fatherhood & Families, Inc., and under Shawn’s leadership, various entities were brought together to improve neighborhoods and strengthen families.

With Shawn’s direction, 2NOT1 organized and hosted several Annual Fatherhood Conferences, and with the support of Congressman John Yarmuth, 2NOT1 has given Annual Fatherhood Awards to deserving fathers who reside in Kentucky and were nominated by their peers or community. In 2011, Shawn developed Teen Fatherhood University, TFU, to help teen fathers 24 and under navigate barriers and learn the skills to be involved fathers. Shawn also created “theBLUEPRINT” youth development program, which has been implemented in two Kentucky school districts. theBLUEPRINT assists youth with understanding the conflict in their lives and provides them with the needed tools to make positive and sound decisions while dealing with those conflicts.

1 comment

  1. So glad to see a story about dads. They matter a lot!


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