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Safe and Sound Schools
A Father’s Day Message from Emilie’s Father, Robbie Parker

A Father’s Day Message from Emilie’s Father, Robbie Parker

4-12 Boston Trip (44)Sometimes as a father of school aged children I feel like I spend a lot of my time on the sidelines. Whether that is cheering them on at a sporting event, nervously watching them in a recital, or complimenting them about a school project I didn’t know was due last Friday.

I often wonder: Do my children know how much I care about them? And, what else can I do to be more involved in their lives? And how can I keep them safe when I am not present?

Of course these questions are natural for fathers. We, like our counterparts, are required to sacrifice so much for the overall benefit of our children. As a parent –a father–there is nothing more important than the well-being and safety of our family.

After my oldest daughter, Emilie, was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary school, my wife Alissa and other grieving mothers from Sandy Hook met to support one another. As their relationships grew, so did their focus: ensuring the safety of children in school. The women started Safe and Sound Schools.  I am so impressed with what they have accomplished.

Like many of the other fathers, I supported them–from the sidelines. That was until I realized that this is a game I can join. This is a game I need to join.

Our children spend about the same amount of time at school each week as we parents do at work. As fathers, our responsibility to ensure our children’s safety and well-being goes beyond the walls of our own home.

As I have met with teachers, administrators, safety and security experts, I have found a group of people who genuinely care about my children’s safety as much as I do. Together we have recognized problems and found solutions that have benefited thousands of children.

If you want to know how to be more involved in your child’s life, in their safety, explore the Safe and Sound School site to access free resources. Get involved, your children will benefit from your love and hard work…whether they know it or not.

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Robbie Parker is husband to Alissa and father of Emilie, Madeline and Samantha. Robbie, is a Neonatal Physician’s Assistant, a contributor to Safe and Sound Schools and co-founder of the Emilie Parker Art Connection, founded in honor of Emilie’s love of art.

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Out of the Mouths of Babes…

Recently, one of my daughters asked me why I’ve been traveling.  I rarely left our home during their little sister Joey’s lifetime.  Naturally, this change has taken some getting used to for my family.

Thinking this was where she was coming from, I started explaining that traveling was an important part of my job at Safe and Sound…I travel to talk to people and work with experts and professionals on making schools safer.  I reassured her that our family still comes first.

I was headed down the wrong cul-de-sac, though…

“It can’t be a job, Mommy.  You’re not getting paid any money.”

I just about spat out my coffee.

“Well,” I stalled, “not all jobs pay in money, Sweetheart.  Nobody pays me for doing the laundry, cooking, or grocery shopping, right?  It’s just part of taking care of our family.  The pay off is a happy, healthy, well-fed family.”

I paused to study her face and see how I was doing.  I had her attention…

“Safe and Sound is like a home, a gathering place for members of a bigger family.  People who visit our site, or invite us to their community, or help us learn and teach others, are working for the same pay off:  safer schools.”

“Well, who’s in this family?”

Detecting a little jealousy, I said, “Well, you are, of course! You want schools to be safe, happy places, right?  That’s why you work on safety all the time at school.”

“Well, yeah.  But who else is in this family?”

Fair enough…

“Teachers, Counselors, Principals, Firefighters, Police, Moms, Dads, Students, safety experts–anybody who wants to make schools safer,” I answered.

“Like the Colonel?”

“Huh?  Oh, you mean Col. Grossman?!”  Determined to keep a straight face and NOT laugh out loud, I realized she meant Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, who I had just met at his Lynchburg, VA seminar.

“Yes, he’s one of the people working hard on making schools safer.  You know who else was there?  A whole lot of students.  They were all college students at Liberty University who want to learn too.  In fact they ran the whole day and got “The Colonel” there!”

“And they’re all in the family?”

“Yep. All of ‘em.”

-MG

I’ll post more soon on my travels and the inspiring folks I have been meeting and learning from!

 

 

 

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