Proud graduates gathered at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County on Memorial Park Drive on Tuesday evening to celebrate their accomplishments with a dinner program after completing weeks of classes.
But those graduating weren’t boasting new academic credentials. Rather, the graduates were a group of parents who had finished an eight-week parenting course at the Joseph F. Walters Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County.
The course, designed to teach parents how to answer questions through discussion and positive reinforcement techniques to reduce discipline issues with their children at home, was free to parents whose children were club members.
“We had a really great response to the classes,” said Unit Director Mark Mendoza of the course. “The biggest advantage is having someone to hear your concerns and being able to speak to someone who has dealt with the issues you’re facing at home. A lot of the families don’t have family members here to be mentored by, so it’s a time they get to talk about what they’re facing.”
Because the club uses a progressive curriculum, a different topic was covered in each week’s class, including how to communicate effectively with children and how to discipline with both firmness and kindness. Classes were held every Tuesday for two hours in Spanish and taught by curriculum facilitators.
“This is an accomplishment. It shows you really are invested in what’s going on with your child. This is really a thank you dinner to our parents; they’ve made this class more than we ever would have imagined,” said Mendoza.
The organization hosted most of the 20 families who participated in the program at the dinner, something curriculum facilitator Rosa Darquea said showed the investment the parents had in their children’s lives.
“It’s a great program because nobody gets trained to be a parent. You learn mostly through mistakes, and the program taught the parents how to communicate with their kids and how to be better and more loving parents,” said Darquea, who is also a special education teacher at Lyman Hall Elementary School and tutor in the club’s after-school program. “They do a great job here with our children.”
The dinner program included guest speakers, music and the presentation of certificates of completion.
Mendoza said that because this “cohort of parents” who graduated was so successful, the club has decided to forgo a planned break in the parenting course and continue to a second phase of classes after the curriculum is developed.
The organization is hoping that in addition to Tuesday’s graduates, more parents in the community will attend when the second phase begins, hopefully in January.