One program, entitled "Learning Basket for Healthy Families" was put together in conjunction with the Heartland Health Alliance and served a group of 36 families. These families were made up of mainly recent refugees from Burma and Bhutan. The group participated in eight sessions throughout the spring and summer, with each session focused on how to support healthy behaviors in young children.
Parents received information about healthy child development, mental and physical, as well as hands-on practice implementing activities to support healthy growth with their children. Upon conclusion, parents shared remarks such as, "I did not know that it was so important to my baby's development that I talk to her. I thought she could not understand me but now I know that she is learning to understand more and more each day."
The second pilot program this year "Learning Basket for School Readiness", was created in conjunction with RefugeeOne and The Bhutanese Community Association of Illinois. This program was designed to serve the parents of three-five year olds and to try out the expanded Learning Basket for School Readiness curriculum. The pilot served 37 families during the six sessions.
Session topics focused on how to prepare children for school mentally, emotionally, and physically. Discussions included "How to Talk with Your Child's Teacher" to "Fun Ways to Teach the Alphabet" and many more. Parents were provided with an item from the basket each week, as well as one of the newly designed activity cards detailing how to play with the item in ways that encourage learning for three - five year olds. During reflection on the course, one parent noted that, "I did not know that I am able to go and observe in my child's class or ask questions of the teacher about how he is doing. Now I know that as a parent that is part of my job."