Women’s United is an initiative of the United Way and is made up of women in the Quad-Cities area who are committed to ensuring that all children are Kindergarten-ready, no matter their socioeconomic status. I am extremely proud to count myself among Women’s United Charter Women. We are passionate about children and early childhood learning and believe that parents can be given the tools to become the best teachers for their young children. Tools include learning ideas regularly texted to parents, a Born Learning Calendar which lists new teaching opportunities every day of the year and free age-appropriate books sent to every child in the program. The core component, though, is the Born Learning Academies. These are multi-week workshops that instruct parents on how to promote everyday learning opportunities and also share important parenting skills like nutrition, developing children’s language skills and getting your child on a schedule.
I am so excited about Women’s United as I have seen it WORK first-hand. I have mentored a young single mom with two preschoolers since she herself was in Kindergarten. Her dad wasn’t around and her mother abandoned her at 7 years of age. She never got a chance to see parenting modeled in her own life so it’s no surprise that the “ins and outs” of being a mom that we take for granted weren’t in her wheelhouse. I enrolled her family in a Born Learning Academy about 2 years ago. She doesn’t have transportation, so she walked 3 miles to the Academy setting for 5 weeks after work so she could learn how to become a better mom. She met her kids at the location where her children’s babysitter dropped them off. The families eat dinner together and then the children go off for a supervised learning activity and play while the parents attend the instruction. I was there with car seats afterwards to take the family home. I spend a lot of time with this family. I know the good, the bad and the ugly and I know that the best intentions sometimes are complicated by poverty and dysfunction. But I’m here to tell you that the Born Learning Academy experience was a “game-changer” for this family. It has been a joy to see. Also, the good folks at Women’s United have helped provide the resources so we could get the oldest of these two children into preschool where he is thriving and excited to learn. A big thank you goes out to Women’s United and also to the United Way!