Make Children First gives young children and parents a leg up

Program helps young parents and children connect to the services and make healthy choices.

Make Children First held its first Children’s Festival in August in Ashcroft. Co-ordinator Deanna Horsting said the popular event will be back next year. Children were given a variety of activities to learn and have fun with throughout the day in Ashcroft’s Heritage Place Park

Make Children First has been offered to parents and children from aged 0-6 years for about 10 years now.

It’s not the sort of program that co-ordinator Deanna Hosting can describe…

“It’s a kind of a funny program,’ she says. “We support through behind the scenes stuff.”

The program is an initiative funded through the provincial Ministry of Family and Child Development.

Anything that helps young children and their parents in Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Spences Bridge and Clinton is what she looks for.

The Kids Festival in Ashcroft this year was one of her ideas, and a very popular one.

Other events include a chance for young parents to meet the public health nurse over dinner where they also get pictures of themselves with their toddler; a massage for pregnant mothers followed by a talk on health. The program has also provided bicycle helmets to the RCMP to give to families who can’t afford them. Similarly, they’ve provided car seats in the same manner by partnering with ICBC.

And there is the annual Care Fair that rotates among the three communities and next May is Clinton’s turn. The Care Fair brings together young parents with service providers in the area.

In fact, she says, bringing together service providers and potential clients is probably her biggest challenge.

“Parents don’t know what services are available or how to access them,” she says. On the other hand, “Lots of the service providers don’t know how to get services to the parents.”

Horsting tries to make those connections fun and engaging by turning them into contests like taking pictures of their child’s healthy lunch and submitting it for a prize.

Parents are looking for information, she says. Sometimes the only place she sees them is at the information workshops she offers.

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