Parenting can be hard and lonely work.
“You’re caught in isolation sometimes, trying to help your children academically and emotionally,” said LINC Caring Communities Site Coordinator Steve McClellan at Cler-Mont Elementary School.
Tuesday night, the opening gathering of FAST — Families and Schools Together, Inc. — refreshed Fort Osage parents and their children with a deep breath of community.
“It was great,” McClellan said.
More than two dozen adults and children met for dinner, cooperative games, crafts, and peer support groups to help everyone appreciate the challenges and joys of parenthood.
The FAST program is inviting families from all of LINC’s Caring Community school sites in Fort Osage — Buckner, Blue Hills, Elm Grove, Indian Trails and Cler-Mont — to join in future gatherings.
The program aims to help everyone communicate better — parent-to-child, parent-to-parent, and parent-to-teachers and school staff.
The program helps families with resources and strategies, and the families help each other with their own ideas in their peer support time together.
In the custom of FAST meetings, Tuesday night’s gathering began with song and then let parents lead their families in sharing dinner and team-building tasks.
They created family flags with craft materials on the tables, and explored their individual creativity in a game of “scribbles,” in which each family member created a unique drawing starting from the same ambiguous scribble.
The children took the lead in craft projects for their families.
And then the parents got to meet with other parents in the support groups while children gathered with program staff for games.
Coaches certified by FAST helped parents in learning play therapy and other strategies to help them help their children succeed in and out of school.
And at the end, everyone gathered in a large circle to share ideas and feelings in a closing ritual McClellan called, “making it rain.”
The program continues every Tuesday night, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., alternating between Cler-Mont and Blue Hills elementary schools.
Families who wish to join in FAST can contact their Caring Communities site coordinators:
Ken Lingelbach at Blue Hills, 816-650-7525.
Connie Parker at Buckner, 816-650-7309.
Steve McClellan at Cler-Mont, 816-650-7365
Raul Lopez Gomez at Elm Grove, 816-650-7568.
Indian Trails families can call any of the above numbers to join.
Information is also available at www.kclinc.org/fast