Healthy Families is a healthy program

Published 10:43 pm Thursday, August 13, 2009

With the school year just about to start, graduation isn’t even in the back of most folks’ minds. But a group of 14 parents and children took part on Wednesday in a graduation ceremony that could prove more valuable to their long-term health and happiness than even a high school diploma or a college degree.

As they accepted their certificates for participating in the Healthy Families Program, the mothers and their children capped off an important and potentially life-changing three- to five-year program that aims to develop good parenting skills and give at-risk parents the tools they need to raise healthy, well-adjusted children.

Young first-time mothers, especially those who find themselves raising children on their own, often are ill prepared for the rigors of parenting. Many, unfortunately, have had little or no experience actually living in healthy families, much less raising them — so the bad parenting habits they learned while growing up turn into bad parenting habits they use to raise their own children.

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Healthy Families steps in to break the cycle. By teaching young mothers effective means of discipline, the need for helping children to develop good eating and sleeping habits and the importance of books to children’s intellectual development, the program gives its graduates a way to overcome their circumstances.

By encouraging young mothers to continue their education, Healthy Families also improves those families’ chances of financial success, which in turn results in greater opportunities for both the mothers and their children.

With support from community foundations, Sentara Obici Hospital and various local and state government agencies, Healthy Families is a great example how private organizations and public entities can work together to improve their communities. The program deserves all the support it can garner.