In celebration of Father's Day 2020, Jamaica Moves interviewed 3 Jamaican fathers who shared their experiences, and their hopes and wishes for their children.
We hear from O'Dain Donegan, Garfield Taylor and Orville Arscott and how they plan to care for their health for themselves and for their children.
O’Dain Donegan Zooms in on Jamaica’s Need for Healthy Fathers
O'Dain Donegan gets his 8 year old son noah out and active as much as possible.
“If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.” These are some of the famous words by Dorothy Law Nolte in the poem Children Learn What they Live. And this Father’s Day, content creator, entrepreneur, and fitness enthusiast, O’Dain Donegan says he is choosing to live a life of exemplary health to set a similar path for his baby boy.
O’Dain is well-known as the man behind the lens, always taking pictures at sporting events like 5k run walks and various training sessions across the country for his personal magazine and fitness brand, Push. But many may not know that he does way more than feature fitness.
He says it is a lifestyle that he lives. “I played football and Volleyball for my company and eventually started doing 5Ks, 10Ks, Half Marathons and Marathons,” O’Dain shared, adding that it was only a natural progression after growing up in rural Jamaica with little in the house to do. As a boy, O’Dain was always outside playing one sport or another.
And in this age of tablets, laptops and ever-advancing gaming technology, the 35 year old proudly shared that his son Noah has adopted his love of the outdoors. In fact, it seems that young Noah Donegan has taken to mimicking the passions and actions of his father O’Dain who says that “he likes Running and taking pictures,” just like his dad.
So it seems that the apple didn't fall far from the tree. But make no mistake, this is by design as O’Dain fathers his son with healthy intentions.
“At the point when I found out that I was going to be a father, that was nowhere in my plans, But I already knew the type of father I would be. My life hasn't changed a lot since his birth. I take him most places with me, I try to incorporate him into all aspects of life.” He said.
O'Dain and Noah stay active by doing sports together.
At home, there are no “snacks and junk food”, exercise is their routine, most meals are lovingly prepared and the Donegan household is always up for an adventurous hike or a ‘chill day by the river’.
For those reasons, O’Dain is confident that with Noah following his every move, he is setting him up to live a long, healthy life. For his son who is his biggest motivation in life, O’Dain says, “I hope he has a long, full life. A life full of great experiences, adventures and success.”
Noah continues to be a source of inspiration and wonder for O’Dain and he marvels at his affectionate and empathetic child. And while he wasn’t ready 8 years ago when Noah was born, O’Dain now firmly believes that men who are absent from their children’s lives are missing out on “the best experience of being human.”
And with COVID-19 offering so much time for reflection on relationships, life,love and health, O’Dain hopes that after this crisis other Jamaican men don’t take their health, relationships and ability to move freely for granted.
In his Jamaica Moves message to Jamaican fathers for this father’s day he calls on the well-known proverb, ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’, adding, “The same goes for your health and wellness, if you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of your children and enjoy the parenting experience as you should. So, to all Jamaican fathers, take care of yourselves physically and mentally so you’ll be able to share a long life with your child or children.”
Garfield ‘Bucka’ Taylor Urges Jamaican Dads to Get Healthy this Father’s Day
Garfield 'Bucka' Taylor wants to be good example of a good healthy man for his daughter Jordan.
A Policeman is often feared, assumed to be rigid and even callous. But this Father’s Day, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Garfield ‘Bucka’ Taylor is humanizing officers everywhere and at the same time, reminding us that public servants like police officers in Jamaica also have a duty to take responsibility for their health - not only for their children but for themselves.
DSP Taylor is father to 2 year old Jordan and together, alongside his wife Lecia-Gaye, they’re quickly becoming one of Jamaica’s favourite online sensations and it is no wonder why.
He is not afraid to publicly love his family, especially 2 year old Jordan. And the relatively new daddy is adamant that he wants to be a real life demonstration of health and healthy relationships for his daughter.
“Striving for good health has always been a critical aspect of my life. During my college years and shortly after, I was always a fitness enthusiast. As my career got more demanding, I faltered and even gained significant weight, but I am always mindful of the need to remain healthy and to choose a healthy lifestyle.” He shared.
The Deputy Superintendent added that because he “faltered”, and he has now become a father he stepped up his efforts to get back on track.
Over the past 4 years he has made significant lifestyle changes. He says, “ In late 2016, due to various health issues and a sleep apnea scare, I did a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery and over the course of the following year, I lost over 100 pounds.”
And true to his usual style, he has been sharing his journey with health and fitness online. It is not unusual to see DSP Taylor at the gym lifting weights or in a pool getting hydrotherapy. It’s not the typical exercise for a Jamaican dad and sometimes, he scales back by spending the day at the beach with his family.
Garfield and Jordan love spending time together.
But whatever happens, he says he remains proactive about living a healthy lifestyle. Even in the midst of the coronavirus, he persisted in getting his family time and exercise in, as well as maintaining a healthy diet.
For him, the extra time with his family because of social distancing is something to be treasured and continued, even after the crisis. “I am happy to be able to change the narrative for black men and especially Jamaican men to show that we can be a part of happy, and healthy family units. Healthy families build desirable communities and ultimately better countries.”
And as he leads his own family by example, he made a plea to other Jamaican fathers, saying “I encourage everyone, but especially men to take control of your heath. This includes taking stock of your lifestyle and making positive changes to your diet. Do not consume too much alcohol and quit smoking. We want to remain healthy and strong for our families, especially our children and grandchildren. So take action, get up and move!”
Cancer Patient & Dad, Orville Arscott Urges Fathers: “ Check Up on Yourself ”
Orville and his eldest daughter, Sonya-Lee are fitness partners.
Getting a cancer diagnosis is often devastating for patients and their families. And Orville Arscott's experience was no different. He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2014 and it was quite a stressful ordeal for him and his children.
At the time, Orville, who is an electrical engineer and businessman, had 5 children all still in various stages of school. And coupled with finding out that he had cancer, it brought his mortality into sharp focus. He was forced to think about his life, health, children and legacy.
And as he reflects on that journey and the cancer coming back late last year, he has come to the conclusion that, in part, it was the mutually loving and giving relationship that he shared with his children that anchored him throughout it all.
“To be honest before the cancer, I was the typical man. You know how it is, you do a medical because you need it in order to do something else. You go to the doctor because an issue is persistent. The first thing you do when you feel that something is wrong, is to say you’re going to watch it.” He shared as he reflected on his old habits.
But after going through the diagnosis, various procedures, countless examinations, still ongoing treatment and the birth of his sixth child, he realized that things had to change.
He underwent a complete turnaround and tried everything within his ability to stay alive and stay as healthy as possible. “I wanted to leave a positive impact on my kids,” He said.
He says he has a much better relationship with his health because it has allowed him more time to live a longer life and enjoy children and other loved ones.
Orville Commits to working out early mornings.
“One of my favourite things to do when I have the time is to just cook a meal and everybody has dinner together. And even though all of my kids don’t share the same mother, we have times when everybody comes over and we have dinner together.” He added.
Orville says that he wants to leave all of his children with a strong understanding of the importance of family, even after he’s gone. It is something that he himself witnessed as a child with the loving examples from his mother and stepfather and his grandparents who used to spend a lot of time together.
And while it hasn’t always been easy for him to do that, especially as a father, looking back he believes that it was all worth it and wants them to experience life and even parenthood as well..
Fatherhood he says, has taught him to be even more patient as a man and to check in on people and find out how they are.
He adds that, “It has also been challenging because parenting is one of the most important jobs but you don’t have a manual so there are a lot of things you have to learn as you go along.”
And learn and adapt, he did. Orville shares that the generation gap between him and his 6 children has proven difficult but “learning their language”, realizing that they learn differently and adapting to current ways of communicating through online platforms has helped to strengthen his relationship with his children.
He says, “The most memorable part of this journey is just being a father and seeing them as an extension of you.” It is for this reason that he has learned to take care of himself so that he can be around for them as well.
Sonya-Lee and her father Orville working out.
And now as the world continues to grapple with the Coronavirus, he is considered to be vulnerable because he’s still battling cancer. But with the help of his family and children, especially his eldest daughter, Sonya-Lee, he forges on.
“She put me on a program, so we workout in the mornings. Even in the heights of the Coronavirus when we were locked in, she had me exercising. And now I’m trying to follow through.”
He says that all the kids check up on him to see if he’s well and if he’s eating right. They assure him that he did something right and they continue to care for one another.
This Father’s Day, Orville’s message is simple, “Health is wealth. You must take it very seriously. So to every father, every man out there, check up on yourself. And once there you have life you have hope, so especially in these times with COVID, use what you have, use the technology and connect with your children.”