Great Start Parent Coalition helps families build up younger generation

Posted at 10:04 AM, Jan 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-20 10:04:39-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Learning to parent during your child's first years can be a tough task for anyone, which is why experienced parents are pitching in to help new parents.

The Great Start Parent Coalition is a group that aims to increase parents' skills, knowledge and participation. The group is made up of both parents and caregivers of children 12 and younger. From monthly meetings to dropping off diapers, they're helping in a lot of different ways.

"We’re really the hub and the resource," said Matt Haviland, the lead parent liaison for Great Start Parent Coalition. "We collect diapers either through organizations and businesses that do drives for us, and then we distribute them through pantries." The first diaper drive was in 2009.

With the help of Meijer and other corporations, the Parent Coalition has donated nearly 800,000 diapers to pantries in Kent County, including the Pregnancy Resource Center on 28th street in Wyoming.

Becky Buick, the Pregnancy Resource Center's chief operating officer says there are babies that spend the entire day in one diaper because their parents can't afford to buy an adequate supply.

"They deserve diapers," Buick said. "They deserve clothing for their children, and we know that they can be a great parents as we walk beside them."

Thanks to the Parent Coalition, diapers are free.

But the Parent Coalition donates more than diapers. They provide resources and time, too.

The organization holds monthly meetings, and each one focuses on a different topic, such as early child literacy, health and fitness, positive discipline, and internet safety.

Haviland says the goal is to build up younger generations, because, in a lot of ways, that will create a much stronger, healthier social system in the future. Haviland added that kids living in poverty have less opportunity, losing growth and potential. The Parent Coalition is hoping to change that.

The Parent Coalition recently introduced their Parent Cafes as part of their strengthening families initiative where small groups encourage parents to use their strengths and take ownership of their roles in their family. The gatherings are open to moms, dads and couples.

The group plans to hold their next meeting Thursday Feb 9 at the Henry Head Start building at 5:45 p.m.

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