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Helping hand: New parent support program provides tools, workshops, more

Military family members take part in last year’s stroller parade to help raise awareness of child abuse prevention efforts. This year’s parade is scheduled for April 25. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Military family members take part in last year’s stroller parade to help raise awareness of child abuse prevention efforts. This year’s parade is scheduled for April 25. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: March 25, 2016

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (March 25, 2016) -- Parenthood presents a variety of challenges, but Fort Rucker’s New Parent Support Program offers services, classes and workshops to provide new and future parents with valuable tools.

“NPSP has a multitude of resources at our finger tips to provide information to many on- and off-post organizations,” Vicky Harmon, NPSP nurse specialist, said. “These include some of the following: the (Women, Infants and Children) programs, (Child, youth and school services) registration, Exceptional Family Member Program, Department of Human Resources, DEERS, Army Community Service and family advocacy program.”

According to Harmon, NPSP promotes healthy families through a variety of services including home visits, support groups and parenting classes.

The NPSP is open to all active duty military, retirees and family members — either expecting or with children up to age 3.

“You do not need to be a first-time parent,” Harmon said. “This could be your sixth child, but you could use support and education. Remember that no two children are alike.”

NPSP contributes to mission readiness, supports family member adaptation to military life, and enhances the knowledge and skills family members need to form healthy relationships, according to Harmon. NPSP helps parents to provide safe, nurturing environments for their children, prevents family violence and fosters a supportive military community for young military families.

“NPSP offers many classes,” Harmon said. “NPSP is always looking to the community for suggestions of new ones to add. During the month of April, NPSP is offering infant and child CPR and infant massage classes. Baby Sign Language we offered throughout March.”

Harmon added that future training opportunities will include advice on feeding children from birth to age 5, baby-led weaning, baby sign language, “Today’s Mom” nutrition workshop series and the expectant parent workshop series.

“Do not be afraid to ask for help,” Harmon said. “No one person knows everything and it is better to ask rather than to get into a situation that might cause a problem. We have tons of literature for new and expecting parents, and a staff that have a combined 75 years of knowledge and experience.”

According to Harmon, the benefits of NPSP extend much further than the classroom.

“Participants become more confident parents,” she said. “They learn to understand the ages and stages of their child’s development. They help their children develop social skills, develop a support system, lessen stress, make parenting fun, improve communication between spouses, develop new friendships and help them become more comfortable in the military community.”

New and expectant parents will have the opportunity to hear a firsthand account of NPSP’s many benefits from guest speaker Una Taylor during a Single Parent Brown Bag Lunch March 29 from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at Munson Heights Community Center. Snacks will be provided, but attendees are asked to bring their own lunch to the event. Refrigerator storage will be provided.

According to Harmon, the lunch is geared toward helping attendees meet other single parents, network and learn what resource are available.

“(Taylor) is the representation of a parent that went through a pregnancy and had a newborn as a single parent,” Harmon said. “She demonstrates that, with support, you can accomplish your goals. It is always a positive note to hear a success story and know that, with the help of the services ACS, FAP and NPSP provide, everyone can be a success story.”

The lunch is free and open to all active duty military, retirees and their family members.

“Spouses who have a deployed spouse may attend, for they are functioning as a single parent and could also use the support,” Harmon said.

For more information, call 255-9647.

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