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Becoming better parents focus of six-week course

Sibling rivalry, concerns over drugs or alcohol and communication tools are just some of the topics to be addressed during a six-week Strong Families Parenting course to be held in both Sunnyside and Grandview.

Organized by Comprehensive (which was formerly known as Central Washington Comprehensive Mental Health) with support from the federal Project LAUNCH program, the classes will meet twice each week for six weeks.

The Grandview parenting classes will be held at Smith Elementary School, 205 Fir Ave., from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting April 11. The course wraps up on May 23.

Sunnyside's course will be offered at Pioneer Elementary School, 2101 E. Lincoln Ave., from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. also on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but starting on April 16. It concludes on May 27.

Maria Vijarro is a client advocate for Comprehensive in the non-profit's Yakima office. She says her agency holds the workshops at schools because of the infrastructure already in place. Free childcare services will be offered at both Grandview and Sunnyside workshops, she noted.

Information on the Grandview parenting course is available by calling Ben Gonzales at 882-8343 or Vijarro at 509-576-4319.

For more information on the Sunnyside course, call Vijarro or Maria Bobadilla at 837-3278.

The classes and material distributed for each one are all free of charge.

Vijarro says Comprehensive has trained facilitators to run both workshops, which will be offered in English and Spanish.

The classes cover other topics ranging from household rules and consequences to anger management. They are based on a program created by Dr. Marilyn Steele of Seattle.

The Strong Families Parenting workshops started more than 10 years ago, Vijarro says, after Steele and counselors from the UW noticed the same topics kept coming to the fore at each of the parent groups they assisted.

That led to the development of the six-week classes set for Grandview and Sunnyside.

They are offered once a quarter in spring, fall and winter.

She says the classes have some flexibility, in that if 5:30 p.m. is too early for the classes to start then Comprehensive's facilitators can start the sessions at 6 p.m.

In addition, Vijarro said new parents can be admitted into the classes up to the third session. After that, she says the workshops are closed to new members because each class builds on the previous one.

A focus for each six-week course, she notes, is assisting parents in communicating culture and values to their children.

At the end of each six-week class series a graduation ceremony is held for all parents who complete the entire program.

She says, for example, that just last month 16 parents graduated from a six-week Strong Families Parenting class held at Chief Kamiakin Elementary School in Sunnyside.

"The younger, the better," Vijarro says of encouraging parents of young children to attend and participate in the classes. "When they graduate they feel a sense of accomplishment. They feel a lot of energy to do something positive with their children."

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