MATTOON, Ill. (WCIA) – They say, it takes a village to raise a child.
“There’s not a whole lot going on, and we have a lot of communities of parents that are kind of stuck at home or they have the kids, and there’s not a whole lot to do,” Emma Bennett, a mom, said.
In Our Town Mattoon, that village has grown over the years.
“We’ve really built a strong relationship within this community and they’ve really come alongside and supported our families,” Katrina Farris, the director of early childhood, said.
It’s called Birth to Three and it does, just what it sounds like, supports the family through the pregnancy, birth and all the way up until that baby turns three. It’s a program through the Mattoon School District.
Right now, they’re walking 70 families through parenthood. Making sure their children are reaching certain milestones and what to do if they’re not. Helping moms, especially first time moms, through pregnancy and labor and all around, just being there for support.
“Just having a community know that you have people there, because it’s also about mental health and as a parent having people there to help you and their kids to hang out with other kids,” Bennett said. “Especially when you’re a first-time parent its a very comforting thing because all you worry about is your kid, how they’re feeling and what’s going to happen.”
Organizers said it’s an important program to have for any community.
“I think it’s important to have it everywhere. Families need that. There’s a lack of support or community bonding when your kids are little. It’s hard to get out of the home and meet new people,” Farris said. “With that, this program provides that. Helps moms know it’s okay to feel how you’re feeling, it’s okay to need help or struggle, or just have someone to talk to.”
“I feel like the families really learn what’s out there to help them. A lot of them don’t know, but they also feel supported and loved by the community, where maybe they didn’t feel that way before,” she said.
Now, for moms like Emma, it’s even giving her peace of mind after her first child has aged out of the group and gets ready to start pre school.
She said if you’re on the fence, just take the leap and get involved.
Organizers said they do have a wait list of families right now. If you want to learn more or get on that wait list, you can find it here.