Mentoring mothers: Seeks to teach effective parenting skills

Published 3:52 pm Thursday, June 3, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- A new program in the works at Northside Child Development Center aims to extend education to begin at birth.
The Niles Area Mentor A Mom program was designed to help new mothers become more effective parents by matching them with an experienced mentor mother.
The program is aimed at first time mothers, who may have never had good role models in their lives.
Mentor A Mom, which is scheduled to begin next school year, will serve mothers from the time of birth until the child is of school age.
Wickham said the program will benefit young mothers by providing them with the educational resources and support system necessary to help their children develop.
She said that research shows the years before a child goes to school is a critical time in the development of the brain.
One of the main components of the program is the one-on-one mentor support that new mothers will receive.
Through monthly home visits, parent education/support groups, free children's books and play groups for the children, the mentor program will provide parents with the necessary tools to raise their children properly. She also pointed out that early intervention will usually lead to children becoming more successful students.
She said another possible benefit is the prevention of child abuse and neglect, which is often caused by frustration and a lack of knowledge. Wickham thinks that these types of programs, that include such an early intervention, should become a common educational practice.
But, as of right now there is no funding for these types of programs and it is being made possible through donations and volunteers. Donations from the Niles Service League and the Hunter Foundation have helped to get the program off of the ground, but Wickham said they are still seeking donations and volunteers to keep the program rolling.
The volunteer organization behind Mentor A Mom has already planned a number of fundraisers including "Baby Bucks for Baby's Books," change drop jars that will be located around the Niles community and the "Walk a Mile for a Baby 2004," which is scheduled to take place at Riverfront Park on September 23. An informational meeting for those interested in becoming mentor moms will be held on September 9 at 6:30 p.m.
Anyone interested in being involved with the program (as a mentor or as a mother) or anyone wishing to make a donation, should call the Northside Parent Room at (269) 684-1544.