Helping kids be all that they can be

Parent Connect Program strengthens social connections for newcomer parents

Four months ago, Rahima, mom of three children, suffered from an anxiety attack. Having moved from Afghanistan twelve years ago with her husband, she didn’t have any support from extended family. The care for the children, the household and day-to-day responsibilities became too much.

“When my friend found out what happened,” Rahima says, “she mentioned the New Westminster Parent Connect program to me.”

Once a week throughout fall and spring, Family Services offers the Parent Connect program to parents like Rahima.

Program Director Patricia Steiner describes Parent Connect as a facilitated, discussion-based program bringing together ‘connector parents,’ who have lived in the community for several years, and ‘newcomer parents.’

“It’s really about learning more parenting skills and finding out about community resources while strengthening social connections,” Patricia says.

Another mother who participates in the program, Amara, also faced difficult issues. This mother of five moved from Nigeria to Canada several months ago and was struggling with learning a new language and adapting to a new culture.

“I have learned so much from other parents in the program and it’s wonderful to have time to connect with moms and guest speakers while my children are in child-minding services downstairs. Not only am I meeting new people and learning new things, but my children also have a great time socializing with other children,” says Amara.

The program gives parents with young children a break from the extensive family responsibilities, provides them with a great opportunity to learn more about the community and to make friends while sharing the experiences and challenges of parenting.

“We couldn’t do it without the support of the United Way,” says Patricia, “the Parents Connect program is fully funded by Success By 6®.”

Success By 6 BC is dedicated to helping young children and their families. It’s a partnership of the United Way, Credit Unions of BC, the BC Government through the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), and Aboriginal and community leaders. United Way of the Lower Mainland acts as the managing partner for Success By 6 BC.

Thank you to the United Way of the Lower Mainland for kind permission to reprint this article and photo of Amara and her young son.