Matt Lauer has spent years honing his hide-and-seek skills at TODAY, keeping viewers guessing about his location in countless Where in The World segments, but he says it's at home where he really shines at the game.
"I'm the James Bond of hide and seek," he said during the filming of his public service announcement on the importance of fatherhood involvement, which aired on Monday to kick off the anchors' TODAY Takes Action series, in partnership with the Ad Council.
The PSA promotes a cause close to Matt's heart: the critical need for kids to have a dad or positive male role model in their lives. Studies have shown that children who have these figures actively engaged in their lives are twice as likely to graduate high school than those who don't, as well as to benefit from stronger development socially, mentally, physically and academically.
Matt created the PSA, which features him playing an epic game of hide-and-seek, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance and the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC). In preparation, Matt headed to West Virginia to chat with a group of dads involved in Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students), the fatherhood involvement initiative of the National Center for Fathering.
Mike Zimmerman, who has a 13-year-old daughter, shared the challenges he's been through in trying to become a better father. “Things get away from you,” he told Matt. “Children grow up…You know, you feel like you’re the wallet, you’re the chauffeur, you’re the go-to guy. But mom gets all the information, you know.”
Zimmerman's daughter Lauren said that since her dad has become involved with Watch D.O.G.S. he has become more loving and involved. “He’s not as grumpy as he used to be,” she said with a big smile.
“It doesn’t take money. It doesn’t take things," Zimmerman told Matt of what he's realized through the program, through which he's also become more involved in his daughter's classroom life. "You see what little time that you’re in the school, how much it lights ‘em up, you get hungry for more. And you want more of that.”
You can find more info and resources about fatherhood issues at Fatherhood.gov.
Stay tuned this week for PSAs from Al, Natalie and Savannah, and check TODAY.com for how YOU can take action!