On Sunday, February 12, 2012, a Willow Branch apartment rented by the Clarkston Development Foundation as a Parents as Teachers (PAT) office and play and learn center was transformed. Over 30 children from 3 months old to 14 years of age and adults enjoyed music, poetry, drumming, reading books, drawing, conversation, and samosas.
The living room was decorated with books and posters about famous African American and Somali leaders. Somali music played in the background
Awowo Hussein (grandfather Hussien) gathered the children around him as he read Somali poems and talked about their meaning. The original idea, as conceived by PAT parent educator Samia Abdullah, was to have several elders meet with the children outside under a tree to draw on the sand and read Somali poetry. However, because of the cold, the group gathered in the living room of the CDF apartment.
The middle room, an office, was transformed into a music studio, Asha Sufi a Somalli PAT parent, and her 3 month daughter Nawal as well as others from the community created poetry and practiced drumming.
In the back room, Jeff Mather, artist in residence at the Clarkston Community Center, and another group of children talked about the importance of roots, drew trees, and other creative pictures.
Children of all ages sat on the floor or around tables and read books and enjoyed each other’s company. Somali history was the topic of an impromptu discussion after the poetry reading. The babies seemed to like the music, conversation, and all of the attention.
One of the highlights of the afternoon was the drumming practice and production. For about an hour, Clarkston’s Paula Larke enthralled the children and adults with her drumming magic, and within a short period of time, children and their parents who had never drummed before were making beautiful music together. The result was a truly creative production, showcasing the drums and music in addition to an original poem (Hoobalayow heedhe) developed that afternoon.
Poetry plays an important role in Somali culture. Poetry has been the core form of cultural expression and it is woven into the basic day to day task people carry out each day from putting a little baby to sleep to a young man praising his camels in a watering song.
This event is one of several that are being organized by the parents and CDF staff participating in Parents as Teachers (PAT). PAT seeks to provide the information, support and encouragement parents need to help their children develop optimally during the critical early years of life. The PAT approach promotes parents as the child’s first teacher and their home as the child’s first classroom.
PAT is based on research that tells us that brain and growth development happens more rapidly during the first five years of life than at any other time.
PAT offers (a) home visits that include learning activities, sharing of information about newborns, parenting, and literacy activities, (b) developmental, hearing and vision screening; (c) group connections like the one on Sunday, and (d) connecting families to resources —- and to each other. Pregnant moms and families with children birth to five who live in Willow Branch, Kristopher Woods, or Avalon apartments are eligible for the program. CDF has 4 parent educators, who among them speak over 6 languages.
One of the next group events is a Baby Shower. CDF invites the community to donate new and usable baby items BY MARCH 1 that can be shared with the parents.
We would like:
- Baby blankets
- Infant equipment in good condition (swings, strollers)
- No stuffed animals, please
For more information or to donate baby items, please contact Roberta Malavenda, CDF Early Learning Coordinator, at 404 3l7-2734 or Geanie Jones, CDF Parents as Teachers Administrator, at email@example.com .
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