FENNIMORE and PLATTEVILLE - Tucked into the halls of Southwest Technical College is an independent program that can help not only students, but also all members of the community, to be better parents and to build better lives.
The program, First Steps, seeks to create a space in which a parent can seek the help they need without judgment, while rewarding them for learning no matter their background or circumstances. And they do all of this for free. Whether it’s soon-to-be parents looking for childbirth and lactation education or a single parent with a toddler looking for help coping with tantrums or parents facing more serious struggles such as homelessness or drug addiction, program director Joey Larson is there to help.
First Steps is a project of the Clarity Clinic of Southwest Wisconsin, which is a free non-profit educational clinic serving women and men through education related to pregnancy and reproductive wellness based in Platteville. Clarity Clinic was approached by Southwest Technical College as the school sought to assist a student, who Exec Director Karen Bradley said, “Had nothing, no home, nothing.” The help staff at Clarity Clinic was able to offer, and the assistance they were able to coordinate with other agencies, prompted the college to invite them to open on campus.
First Steps is located in room 236 on the Fennimore campus of Southwest Technical College. Those who walk into the calm, muted green space will find Joey Larson amid all the accouterments needed for a small child – cribs, bedding, clothing, strollers, diapers, etc. Tucked into one corner is a class space where Larson can sit with clients or clients can watch educational videos.
The program offers 70 classes covering all aspects of healthy parenting. Each class completed earns the expecting or new parent with a child up to five years old “Baby Points” that can be used to shop in the First Steps Boutique. Extra points can be earned by bringing partners or other support people and children ages 3-5 and through monthly drawings. Classes cover everything from labor and delivery to breastfeeding support to positive parenting and building healthy relationships.
For the complete article, see the Aug. 9, 2018 issue of the Fennimore Times.