Engage was initiated at Paul Roos Gymnasium, a school for boys in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The school started a character development programme at the start of 2009 with some creative initiatives. One of the components of the programme was aimed at providing parents with suitable reading material. A particular book, Raising a Modern Day Knight by Robert Lewis, stood out as suitable reading material and the school approached a local business to aid the funding of the distribution of the book.

One thing led to another and before long a parent committee was established to discuss the implementation of a process to further equip and encourage parents. The first so-called Engage evening, on 2 September 2010, resulted. This evening was attended by approximately 140 fathers from Paul Roos Gymnasium and was facilitated by teachers and fathers from the school. Corné Krige, former South African rugby captain, was the guest speaker at this event.

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive as dads drew great encouragement and motivation from the evening. There was no turning back and planning for 2011 commenced with great urgency, as the massive need for this initiative was suddenly plain to see – how could we have missed it before?
In 2011, three highly successful Engage evenings were held at Paul Roos Gymnasium. The first event, in February, saw dads and moms meet at two separate venues to discuss their roles in their son’s character formation. The second event, in June, was a forum for dads and moms to join forces with other parents to discuss relevant matters under the guidance of guest speaker, Cassie Carstens. An enormous highlight was the third Engage evening in October where approximately 400 dads and sons attended a brilliantly organised evening that provided enormous investment in the relationship between father and son.

That Engage was not destined to be a mere local phenomenon became evident soon. Schools from surrounding towns like Somerset West, Cape Town and Bellville soon expressed interest in pursuing the Engage concept. Further afield, schools from Jeffreys’ Bay, Upington and Pretoria also made contact with the Engage organisers for help in starting Engage at their schools.

FingroCreating a website where any school can access all the necessary information was the obvious next step. At this point Fingro Wealth, a company owned by Paul Roos parents, offered a sponsorship to aid the launching of this website. We are deeply grateful for their support in this matter. To find out more about Fingro Wealth, please visit: www.fingro.co.za

The future is exciting! Should every school become an Engage school? In other words, should every school serve as a platform for impacting families? Perhaps this might not quite be the case but the fact remains: schools are ideally situated in communities to influence families. Time will tell to what extent Engage will influence the families
and school communities across the world.