Recently I’ve been thinking about what makes Easter Seals North Georgia’s programs unique. Okay, lots of places provide early education, early intervention and/or support services. I realized almost immediately that the thing that makes us unique is our commitment to FAMILY. We cannot fully educate, support or provide therapies to children with special needs if we do not focus on their families too.
As Thanksgiving approaches, let’s talk about family and their importance on a child’s development.
Easter Seals North Georgia’s overarching goal is that parents will be their children’s first and most important teacher. How do we do that?
1. Engage them. We know that a huge part of a child’s success is how engaged their family is. To ensure their engagement, we are piloting a Parent and Family Engagement project at our Sylvan Hills child development center.
2. Keep them healthy. Each child development center has Family Support Advocates. One of their responsibilities is to make sure our families have access to services to keep them healthy – physically and mentally.
3. Empower them. Our early intervention services not only provide therapy to children with developmental delays or disabilities, it also coaches parents on how to best help their children blossom.
4. Support them. Our Champions For Children program provides parents of medically fragile children with financial support as well as information to make their lives and their children’s lives happier and healthier.
5. Teach them. Every single one of our programs from Raising A Reader to the PLAY Project teaches parents. We teach parents how to engage their kids when reading to them and when playing with them.
One of my favorite stories of success from our program is Angela and her son, Josh. Josh was a student at one of our child development centers and Angela often volunteered there, too. When she fell on hard times and found herself homeless, she confided in the center’s management. Immediately the center manager and the Family Support Advocates rallied to secure the family secure housing and basic needs. Thanks to ESNG’s help, Angela was able to go back to school, become a Certified Nursing Assistant and find a stable job. We could just educate Josh, but how useful would that education be, if he didn’t have a house, food and security?
When you sit down with your family next Thursday, please think of all the work your parents did to teach you to become the person you are today. Let’s also think about parents of the children in our programs who need help in teaching their children.