Thanks to a grant from 100WomenStrong, the Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS) has created a program to help instill resilience in area children.
NVFS’ “Here, Now and Down the Road: Growing Resilience” parenting class is designed to foster resilience in children, and enhance their ability to overcome adversity and lead healthy, socially competent, successful lives.
“It’s been very successful. Sometimes in the busy days, we don’t stop and think that the parenting could actually have an impact on the child’s ability to be school ready, but it does, so we want to drive home that fact,” NVFS Director of Early Childhood Shereen Ali said.
The eight-session course, which began July 14 and will end Oct. 20, features games and other activities to get parents involved in the learning process. Breaks between sessions are designed to allow parents to practice the ways in which they have learned to support their children’s emotional strengths, and provide feedback and experiences during future class sessions.
NVFS has incorporated resilience in its Head Start program, and with the grant, decided to expand this training so that parents can continue the work Head Start instructors do during the day. Given the epidemic of teen depression and suicide gripping the county and nation, Ali said it’s important to build healthy habits for teens to later fall back on when dealing with difficult situations.
“Anything that we are able to target and intervene when the child is very young is remarkable. We don’t want to wait until a child is a high schooler to say, ‘Hey, we could have done this earlier,'” Ali said. “It’s always better when you’re able to build in support when they’re much younger. Empowering the parent to be a part of the child’s life and to advocate for the child and to provide that kind of support goes a long way.”
Parents enrolled in the class are referred to NVFS through the organization’s Head Start program, social services hospitals, the school system and family shelters. NVFS provides babysitting money and dinner to parents, in hopes to make the program as accessible as possible.
The remaining sessions are 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 8, Sept. 22, Oct. 6, and Oct. 20 at Galilee Church. NVFS will also host a Spanish version of the class in spring 2018.