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Spotlight on Walden // Jun 02, 2016

Reshaping Fatherhood

Micah Griffin

Micah Griffin has had a passion for improving people’s lives, particularly their health, since he was a child. As a young student, he was the one bringing fruit to class when it was his turn to contribute a snack. From an early age, he saw that if he could get people to think about their health and how their decisions shape it, he could make a positive impact.

It should come as no surprise that he’s now an instructor of health studies at Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina, where he helps run a health program that benefits students—many of whom are first-generation college attendees—by offering annual health screenings that are backed up with innovative programming that keeps the students engaged and focused on their health all year.

But the most notable accomplishment the 2015 Scholar of Change has made is as the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Heal Our People Incorporated, which is designed to educate the community by focusing on three areas: fatherhood success, academic advancement, and improving access to healthcare.

“I founded the nonprofit two years ago primarily to create programs that focus on African-American men. I grew up with my father and brother, and was fortunate to have my dad instill ideals and values that led to where I am today,” Griffin shares.

In April, Heal Our People launched its first six-week Fatherhood Success Academy in partnership with Head Start. “We want to influence fatherhood development, because it directly impacts family development,” he explains. Through this program, Griffin educates fathers about their roles in their children’s emotional development, how to break unhealthy parenting habits, and how to improve their overall communication skills. At the end of the course, participants celebrate together with their spouses and children at a cookout and field day.

“The program is founded on research that shows that when children have regular, positive contact with their fathers, they experience improved emotional development, perform better in school, have fewer behavioral problems, and go on to become successful adults,” Griffin says. “Our program shares why it’s important not only to be there physically, but also emotionally.”

Griffin, who earned his Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) in 2015 and is currently enrolled in the PhD in Health Services program, says that Walden’s focus on effecting positive social change is what drew him to the university. “Even our discussions in class are geared toward finding evidence-based solutions that can make long-term sustainable change,” he explains. “Everything I have learned at Walden has helped me build my nonprofit, from administration to putting together a health assessment. I look forward to all we can accomplish through my nonprofit.” —Claire Blome

Troy Russell (left) lead a recent Fatherhood Success Academy session to help men from the community become more engaged, dedicated fathers who are actively involved in their children's lives.