Dance planned to boost father-daughter bond

01/12/2013 12:00 AM

01/14/2013 8:53 AM

A Rio Linda High School teacher is organizing a dance next month aimed at strengthening the bond between fathers and their young daughters.

Joe Clark said the "My Princess and Me" dance on Feb. 9 is open to Sacramento-area families, with all proceeds going to his daughter's school, Westlake Charter School.

"Most events are geared toward mothers, and I would never trivialize that, but I don't feel there are a lot of events that build on the father-daughter bond," said Clark, 33, who teaches multimedia at Rio Linda High.

The event is for girls ages 4 to 13 and their escort – a dad, grandpa, uncle, family friend or father figure. The dance will be held in the gymnasium of Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep, which is next to Westlake Charter.

"I think events like this really help me build a relationship with my daughter," said Eugene Balinski, who plans to escort his 7-year-old daughter to the dance. "We don't always see eye-to-eye in our relationship. She mostly goes to her mother for things. For me to go, be silly and have fun, we can grow closer together."

Clark said his impetus for creating the event was to try to address statistics that show girls with uninvolved fathers are more likely to drop out of high school and have kids as teenagers. Clark said that, as a high school teacher, he wonders about father-daughter relationships when he sees girls at his school dress inappropriately or talk provocatively about boys.

"You can almost go through the row and tell who doesn't have a positive relationship with their father," Clark said. "It's sad how easy it is to tell who doesn't have a father figure."

Clark, who has daughters ages 4 and 6, will DJ the event, which he said could become an annual event depending on this year's success. Clark's wife, Joanna, is decorating and organizing volunteers. The couple teach marriage and parenting groups at their Natomas church.

"It is a fundraiser for my daughter's school, but for me it's much bigger than that," he said. "It can be a great community event. There aren't that many events like this out there."

Some local elementary schools hold father-daughter dances for their students. Clark said he's attended two father-daughter dances put on by Girls Scouts for their members and one by Inderkum High School to support creating an International Baccalaureate program there.

"The impact is amazing when fathers really do act like fathers," Clark said. "I don't feel I can change society, but if we can get a few dads to see how fun it is to have fun with their kids, then this is a win."

MY PRINCESS AND ME DANCE

When: 6 p.m. Feb. 9

Where: Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep's gymnasium, 3700 Del Paso Road, Sacramento

Tickets: $25 for one girl and adult; $10 for each additional person. Price includes desserts, photos and surprise Princess guest.

Ages: Girls 4 to 13

More information: To purchase tickets, go to DaddyofDaughters.com. Tickets must be purchased by Jan. 31. No tickets will be sold at the door.

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