Archived Story

11 families graduate from program

Published 9:45pm Monday, June 17, 2013

Eleven children and their parents graduated from the Healthy Families program Monday.

The program helps new parents navigate the first five years of their children’s lives. Family support workers visit families’ homes regularly, helping ensure the children are meeting developmental milestones, answering parents’ questions, helping them set goals and achieve them and connecting them with resources in the community.

Ann Smith, a family support worker with Healthy Families, helps Semaja Fletcher get her graduation cap on straight before Monday's Healthy Families graduation ceremony at Suffolk Christian Church.
Ann Smith, a family support worker with Healthy Families, helps Semaja Fletcher get her graduation cap on straight before Monday’s Healthy Families graduation ceremony at Suffolk Christian Church.

“It’s a really good program for the community,” said Dekeisha Mitchell, a mother who graduated with her son Michael Daniel. “It gives you a lot of information and things you really need to know as a parent that you can’t look in a book and find out.”

Joice Whitehorn, assistant director of Suffolk Social Services, was the keynote speaker for the graduation ceremony, which included youngsters in tiny caps and gowns.

She remarked on the dedication the parents showed to complete the five-year program.

“It is no small thing you have accomplished,” she said.

In her position, Whitehorn said, she has had the chance to see the effects both good and poor parenting have not just on families, but also on the entire community.

She urged the parents to continue the good habits they had learned through the program and provide consistency for their children. Consistency, she said, will help the children develop self-esteem.

She also encouraged the parents to “pay it forward” by sharing their knowledge with others.

“Don’t be stingy,” she said.

The graduates of the program, listed with the mother first and then the child, were as follows:

  • Deatrice Brock and Destini Riddick
  • Angel Davis and Ny’Asia Davis
  • Tracy Fletcher and Semaja Fletcher
  • Renee Greene and Justin White
  • Kumbi Ikuku and Noah Zola
  • Gemma Laminger and Terrence Laminger
  • Frederica Mahone and Josiah Mahone
  • Dekeisha Mitchell and Michael Daniel
  • Carmen Sizemore and Rian Sizemore
  • Elizabeth Williams and Kamarion Williams
  • Shantara Willis and Zariya Willis

The Healthy Families program is funded and supported by Sentara Obici Hospital, Obici Healthcare Foundation, Smart Beginnings South Hampton Roads, and Isle of Wight and Suffolk governments, Social Services departments and health departments.

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