The FASD Project is Coming to Denver Feb 12-13

The FASD Project is Coming to Denver Feb 12-13

The FASD project is a film seeking to rapidly increase awareness of the risks of alcohol consumption in pregnancy within a short period of time, given the significant increase in alcohol consumption since the onset of the global pandemic.

This film aims to bring awareness about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and provide detailed scientific information on prevention, while aiming to start discussions about solutions to current problems facing the community. Through the course of our film journey, producers will be interviewing top scientists, clinicians, psychologists, lawyers, directors of Public Health offices and health institutes, and most importantly, parents and family members of individuals with a FASD.

They will follow ‘a day in the life’ of those living with and impacted by a FASD to present to the viewers how living with an FASD shows up in day-to-day life.

Focusing on impacted individuals who are doing well in addition to individuals who are not faring as well due to incarceration, homelessness or major mental health challenges exacerbated by FASD, this film is aim to share your lived experiences. 

As the Colorado Chapter of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome  (NOFAS), Illuminate Colorado is encouraging anyone willing to share their experiences to participate in this important opportunity. The FASD Project is tentatively scheduled to visit in the greater Denver  to engage with people willing on Friday February 12th and Saturday February 13th.

If you are interested in learning more or want to signing up, visit www.thefasdproject.com.

You can also get answers to many questions regarding things like COVID precautions during photoshoots by downloading the The FASD Project Photoshoot FAQs.

Share your FASD Story
Help the Home Visiting Task Force Make Improvements in Colorado

Help the Home Visiting Task Force Make Improvements in Colorado

Home Visiting in Colorado - Survey Opportunity

Are your kids ages 0 up to 6 years of old? If so, the Home Visiting Task Force in Colorado wants to hear from you before January 27th! The Home Visiting Task Force, coordinated by the Colorado Department of Human Services, is working to learn more about home visiting services in Colorado and how best to support parents and caregivers.

The first 100 respondents to the survey will receive a $10 gift card to either City Market or Amazon. There will also be the opportunity to participate in an English and Spanish focus group in February.

 

 

Spanish Survey Link

English Survey Link

The survey should take 10 minutes, asking questions about:

 

  • the resources and support you have available to you,
  • the strengths of the community you live in, and
  • your experiences with home visiting services you currently get or had in the past, if you’ve received these services.

Confidentiality will be kept no matter what. Your responses will aid the Home Visiting Task Force in making improvements to home visiting services in Colorado.

 

 

 

The Positive Impact of Child Care For Parents Is as Sweet as Honey

The Positive Impact of Child Care For Parents Is as Sweet as Honey

Illuminating Child Care isn’t just delivering a service that is the foundation to all thriving economies by providing child care. It’s a program tearing down barriers, meeting parents where they are at and allowing families to grow stronger together. We sat down to talk with two parents among the first to rely on Illuminating Child Care to find out what impact having free access to child care teachers helping their infants and toddlers learn and grow onsite means to them while they are trying to get the support they need to strengthen their families.  

“As a single mother, and as a single mother in recovery, the greatest barrier to me being able to complete those tasks that I need to complete and stay on track would be child care,” said Karie, one of several parents who’ve depended on Illuminating Child Care over the last month. “Honey is allowing me, as a mother, to stay on top of those other parts of my life so well.”

Honey is the name of Illuminate’s first mobile child care classroom, which began serving the Denver metro area this Fall by visiting places where people are addressing issues like mental health concerns, substance use disorders, or employment challenges, so parents and providers don’t have to worry about arranging for child care. The second, yet to be named, mobile child care classroom is scheduled to begin serving communities in the San Luis Valley early next year. 

One of the things Karie said she loves about Illuminating Child Care is that, even though she and Ava, her infant daughter, are apart for a short time, she doesn’t miss out on what’s happening with her daughter. “They provide the little report cards that allow me to stay updated with what’s happening with Ava during those couple of hours or so, so I know exactly what’s gone on with my child while she’s in the (mobile child care classroom). It allows me to not miss a beat as a mother.”

Illuminating Child Care couldn’t have come at a better time for Leana, a parent who not only uses Illuminating Child Care, but also helped advise Illuminate on the development of the program and services. “It’s a great program for the season of life that I’m in right now,” Leana said. “I believe that it’s just part of the new leaf that I’m turning over in my life. I think it’s a great program that’s available for mothers or fathers…. I believe these things are put in place for a reason.”

Having a safe place to take Nora, Leana’s daughter, has also allowed her to take time to work on important things in her life. “I can take care of some personal business and I can do the things that I need to take care of onsite there and I know that she is in good hands,” Leana said. “Even though it was a little scary at first, you know, being a mom and leaving your child. . . . I just felt that it was a really calming experience.”

According to Karie, it’s been such a gift to have someone to watch over her daughter, Ava. The communication and love from the Illuminate staff are so important and so meaningful to both her and her daughter. “I just love them so much,” Karie said of Madison, Eric and Patsy, the Illuminate staff on Honey. “I feel like they love Ava and I love that. I just have no worries or stress. I don’t doubt the level of care they provide for Ava.

Before any parent can begin to address any complex issue impacting their family, like mental health concerns, substance use disorders, or employment challenges, they are far too often faced, first, with struggling to find child care. This fall, Illuminate Colorado launched Illuminating Child Care, our newest program, bringing an innovative systemic-approach to increasing access to child care for parents and caregivers navigating complex life situations. The program may just be getting started, but lives are already being impacted, including Karie, Ava, Leana and Nora. 

 

No One, in Fact, Is Better Than Ezra

No One, in Fact, Is Better Than Ezra

If you don’t know what Imposter Syndrome is, Ezra, a Coloradan father, can tell you all about it. Working through a divorce, going back to school to pursue a career change and dealing with health issues all made for an extremely difficult year for him. Going through all of this in the midst of a world-wide pandemic didn’t help and Ezra was also starting the process of sharing custody of his 5-year-old daughter in the middle of it all. 

Though he constantly tried his best, Ezra said he often worried that he might not measure up to being a good father. Imposter Syndrome, where one doubts their skills or accomplishments and often feels like a fraud, was becoming all too real to him, that is until he found his Circle of Father’s group. 

Ezra received a simple text message from Bright By Text, a FREE subscription-based text messaging service that offers resources to people parenting. The text was promoting a group of dads and male caregivers that were getting together online weekly to support each other and talk about whatever they want. 

“I was a little uncertain before joining. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if I would fit in,” Ezra said reflecting on his reservations about attending the group. But those concerns became irrelevant after getting on that first call, adding that “there were no requirements. There were no expectations. It was just a bunch of guys on a call being welcoming…. If I had to sum it up in one emotion, it was relief.  I’d found a group of people I could confide in, ask for advice, and relax around.  Each of them had been in a similar place before, and all had something to add to the conversation.” 

Through Circle of Fathers, Ezra has been able to open up to this group of guys, be real with them and get the support and encouragement that he was needing. The other guys in the group helped him see that what he was doing for his daughter was not only enough, but was often more than many parents were able to do for their children.  They helped Ezra to accept that he didn’t have to live up to the unrealistic expectations that he had set for himself. “I’d formed a picture of what a ‘father’ was from what I’d seen in movies and on television. I thought I had to be a ‘superdad’. It took me a while, but they helped me believe I actually did measure up,” said Ezra. It wasn’t about cooking the biggest breakfast every morning or having all the answers all the time. It was about being there for his daughter, supporting her needs and loving her the best that he could. “There are no judgements at Circle of Fathers. It is all about being there for each other,” Ezra said.  

The truth is that life can be difficult at times and there are curves in the road we don’t expect. For these times, we all need support and acceptance. And sometimes just having someone there to listen is the most helpful thing you can find. And that’s what Circle of Fathers has been for Ezra. It’s a place he can go, judgement-free, and share what he’s going through. The guys are always there for him, offering support and giving advice when needed. But most importantly, they help him remember that he isn’t a fraud at all. He is, in fact, a good dad.

As the Colorado state chapter lead for Circle of Parents, Illuminate Colorado offers training, ongoing support and promotion to the 43 Circle groups meeting mostly online right now. There are plans in place to grow to nearly 60 Circle groups throughout Colorado by the end of 2021. Learn more about Circle of Fathers and other Circle of Parents groups in Colorado by visiting CircleOfParentsCO.org.

25 Ways to Strengthen Families Before the End of the Year

25 Ways to Strengthen Families Before the End of the Year

It has been a year like no other, we’ve all found new ways to bring people together, even when we are physically apart. As we move toward the end of the year, it appears as though the stress on people raising people is getting even more intense with schools moving to online learning. 

We’ve put together a checklist to strengthen your family and the families around you before the end of the year to help spread positivity this holiday season.   

25 Ways to Strengthen Families Before the End of the Year

1. Listen to someone who needs to talk about what is going on in their life. Check in with a mother or father to see how they are doing.

2. Pick one stressed out parent that you know, find out if they have any allergies in their home and tell them you have got dinner covered. Doordash makes it pretty easy to have dinner delivered these days. You can’t put a price on this kind of support, and they will appreciate the kindness from people they trust.

3. Organize a neighborhood party so families can connect safely on Zoom.

4. Ask a family if they need something picked up the next time you run to the store.

5. Schedule time for an activity that can help you decompress, relax and recharge. Take a quite bath, try Bloom Yoga or take a walk and listen to your favorite song.

6. Join a parent support group to find other parents like you. Parents we are only human and we need each other. If your work isn’t offering a parent support group, share the online Circle of Parents groups and invite others to join.

7. Shovel snow. It is one less thing that you can take off a parent’s plate in your neighborhood.

8. Donate gently used children’s clothing, furniture and toys to another family or buy a few arts and crafts activities for a family with a little one.

9. Share positive stories about people, businesses or community programs helping families, especially if you have benefitted from someone else’s kindness. Kindness spreads and sharing stories is one way to breakdown stigma often attached to underutilized programs and services.   

10. Share information about parenting and child development on your social media. When you find something that works for your kids, navigate a challenge or simply learn something new about those early years of brain development, share it with others. You never know who needs to hear it.

11. Organize a parents’ night out or Zoom play date. Everyone has to take a break sometime.

12. Add information about family-friendly resources on neighborhood websites on Nextdoor and help reduce stigma by letting others know you received support.

13. Remind people on social media it’s okay to ask and accept for support parenting. No one can do it alone.

14. Recognize a family in distress and don’t just offer support, give it. Take things off someone’s plate. Lead a fundraising effort for a family.  If you are lucky enough to have not been impact significantly by this pandemic, pay it forward.

15. Promote a culture where it is okay for employees to reach out and ask for support and share community resources that support families.

16. Participate in an employee assistance program or maintain a list of available resources to support families.

17. Work with employees to manage workload in times of added stress and allow for flexibility for parents trying to balance work and online learning. 

18. Create a community brag board so employees can show off kids, pets, holiday decorations homes and hobbies. 

19. Offer “lunch and learns” for employees or host a speaker to learn more about child development, stress management and child abuse prevention.

20. Involve your organization in community events or sponsor a day of service for employees. There are countless organizations doing amazing work for families right now. Donate to a food bank, collect books and learning activities for families.

21. If this year has shown us anything it is that unexpected challenges like a job loss or illness can come at anytime. Learn about services for children and families in your community and make an emergency preparedness plan in case your family needs support. In getting your family prepared, you may learn more about how you can connect a friend or family to support as well.

22. Be kind to parents posting on social media. Never shame parents online, especially when they are being vulnerable. Post a word of encouragement letting someone else know you are thinking of them.

23. Light your luminary on Saturday, December 5th to let your community know you are committed to build brighter childhoods. 

24. Share your commitment to prevention with members of your community to inspire others to online using the #LightTheWayCO complete the Light Way entry form every day to earn your points for every action you promoting prevention.

25. Post a picture or mention us on social media using #LightTheWayCO and let us know how you are bringing prevention to life by taking action to strengthen your families and the families around you. It doesn’t need to be on this lists. There are many ways to promote prevention. Think of more, post and we’ll share across Colorado.

Countdown to Light The Way

We’ve also created a fun way to recognize those who are illuminating prevention through your actions everyday to light the way to building brighter childhoodsTry one of the 25+ ways to strengthen families each day before the end of the year and earn a point. We’ll announce point totals for community members lighting the way on December 31st.

Find out who earned the most prevention points on December 31st when we post point totals for everyone who helped light the way toward brighter childhoods in Colorado. 

Innovation Through Partnership: Creating “Honey”

Innovation Through Partnership: Creating “Honey”

We know that access to child care is critical for all parents and caregivers in order for children, families and communities to thrive. So it was fairly easy to recognize the need for a mobile child care classroom to serve Colorado families when they need it the most. Figuring out how to make it a reality was a little more complicated.

Through a lot of hard work and with the help of some incredible partners, that reality is finally here. We’re so excited to introduce Honey.

As a foundational part of Illuminating Child Care, Honey is the first of its kind anywhere in the country. 

 

But none of this would be possible without our partners on this project. One of those partners is Proctor Productions, a full-scale design and fabrication firm with a team of passionate designers, fabricators, and storytellers who are dedicated to building any experience, large or small.

 

Honey would not exist today without the creativity, dedication and hard work of Proctor. We recently sat down with the firm to reflect on the experience of working together to create Honey.

Illuminate Colorado: Why did you decide to take on this project?

Proctor Productions: Building and modifying vehicles for clients is very familiar territory for us, but this was something truly special. We initially met with Jade and Joan about their needs and quickly realized the meaning behind what they were trying to do, and instantly knew this was something we could get behind and believe in as well. We have children and families too, so upon hearing their idea of creating this program to take child care to the people who may need it the most to help and heal, we were in. We’re passionate about all the projects we do, but we’re especially proud of the work we’ve done with Illuminate Colorado.

Illuminate: What was your favorite part about working on Honey?

Proctor: That’s a tough question to answer because we really do love every aspect of the work we do; problem solving, custom solutions, artwork, fabrication, all of it. Each member of our teams are specialists on at least one thing, so there are details and elements throughout Honey that of course are favorites, but we honestly have to say that the relationship we have built with Illuminate may be our favorite part of it all and the best example of the project effort. The high level of collaboration we began with continues to be a fundamental of the work to this day.

Illuminate: What part of the renovation are you most proud of?

Proctor: As we said, we have teams of specialists that all bring value to our projects, but one part of the renovation effort we are most proud of is definitely all the custom woodworking, cabinetry, and interior vehicle elements our fabrication team completed inside Honey. The aesthetic is so complete with such accuracy and specificity that most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the original vehicle portions and anything new we added to complete the interior functions needed. The finishes and build quality are just so spot-on, Honey’s interior looks like it has always only ever been the wonderful mobile child care classroom it is now. Again, we love it all, but are very proud of that team and the end results.

Illuminate: What was the hardest obstacle you had to overcome?

Proctor: We don’t see obstacles, only opportunities for solutions, whatever they may ultimately be. Fortunately, Illuminate sourced a relatively newer RV motor coach in excellent condition as a great point from which to start the project. But there are always unknowns when working with an existing vehicle or mobile platform and those unknowns can definitely be the most challenging to address once you get into the bones of what you’ll really be working with. Honey was already a well-built vehicle with existing hydraulic, pneumatic, gas, electrical, and plumbing systems to design around and integrate with, so considering all those factors was the biggest challenge in accomplishing everything we wanted to in the project. Everything is achievable, it just takes the appropriate amount of time and effort to do it the right way.

Illuminate: Is there anything you learned when it came to how trauma-informed care can impact design?

Proctor: Yes, definitely. We always begin our process with design thinking and asking the right questions to ultimately address the real needs that may be present, but designing for both adult teachers and little kiddos in the classrooms heavily influenced our thinking and final intent. Among many of the things we learned throughout this process, with guidance from Illuminate, we educated ourselves on, and implemented the guiding principles of safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness and empowerment in the classroom wherever we could. Where this influence is most visible is in the forms, shapes, sizes, and placement of elements inside the vehicle. Everything needed to be appropriate and useful to the adults operating the program as drivers, activation staff, and most importantly as teachers. Moreover, it needed to be appropriate for, and compliant with the developmental needs of the infants and toddlers that will be receiving care in the classrooms. Everything from access to toys, books, safe sleeping areas, to colors, artwork, and lighting were considered when designing and creating the interior environment of Honey.

Illuminate: Anything else you’d like to add?

Proctor: Absolutely. It was very important to the entire team from the beginning that this program be accessible to as many families who need help as possible, and one of the ways we could facilitate that access was through the look and feel of the program branding, and especially how the vehicle appears from the exterior and inside as well. We wanted to achieve a balance of Illuminate Colorado’s branding and recognition, but also add some personality and character to this fleet of mobile child care classrooms. We created a look with all the artwork that contains familiar Colorado elements but also some fun and whimsical elements for the kids. And to do that we’ve got a group of bears bringing that personality to life on this vehicle, which it’s named HONEY. HONEY is truly unique in leading the way of how families will experience mobile child care, and our bears are symbolically versatile and can be whatever anyone imagines: a teacher and children, a parent interacting with kids, or parents just hanging out with kiddos. We want to extend educational opportunities to children and make all families feel welcomed, so HONEY represents these family voices in our state of Colorado through it’s bears and mountains. 

We are so grateful for Proctor’s partnership on this project. To learn more about Proctor Productions, visit their website at proctorproductions.com.

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