Last fall, as the temperature began to get cooler and we celebrated Thanksgiving, there was a steady stream of cuteness arriving at the JF&CS Headquarters in Waltham on Tuesday afternoons. This was the annual return of the JF&CS Healthy Families parenting group. Healthy Families works with first-time parents under the age of 21, beginning during pregnancy and continuing through the child’s third birthday. Each Tuesday afternoon, these young parents and their children arrived at our office to spend time together, share their parenting challenges and successes, and have some fun.

Participating in a range of activities from pumpkin decorating to infant massage to cooking together and parent-child yoga, these young parents enjoyed making connections and relaxing in a welcoming, supportive environment. Each week, the controlled chaos of crying babies, crawling toddlers, and laughing parents brought the Healthy Families program participants out from the isolation they so often describe. For the final group in the series, we enjoyed a holiday celebration together and gave the parents an opportunity to share what the group had given them. Healthy Families Parenting Group a SuccessThey spoke of the support, warmth, and connection to other young parents like themselves as being particularly important.

This year’s group was extremely successful with excellent attendance, dynamic activities, and engaged program participants. As one young parent shared, the group series was “amazing.” The Healthy Families staff worked incredibly hard to put each week’s group together and we are so grateful for all of their efforts. We would also like to thank our wonderful volunteers Jill Bovarnick, Angela Gordon, Susan Lambrechts, and Heather Tausig who provided childcare each week for our young parents. We could not have done it without you.

Healthy Families Parenting Group a SuccessSara Yablon-Smith is a Healthy Families Program Supervisor. She joined JF&CS in March 2015. Sara has an MA in Child Development from Tufts University and has worked in early literacy, maternal/child health, early intervention, and parenting education in Greater Boston and in rural Guatemala. In her free time, her own three children keep her very busy.

Originally posted on the JF&CS blog.

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