Course to help parents advocate for children

NAUGATUCK — Parents who want to learn how to become better advocates for their children have an opportunity to participate in a free 20-week course beginning in the late fall.

The course is open to parents from Naugatuck and Beacon Falls and is being run by Naugatuck Discovery, a collaborative of the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls that has a mission to help children succeed in all facets of their growth and development from birth to age 8.

Naugatuck Discovery recently received a grant for $30,000 for the classes to be run through the Parent Leadership Training Institute, which is overseen by the Connecticut Commission on Children. This marks the first time the funding will be available for this kind of course in Naugatuck and Beacon Falls.

Jill Mahoney, community coordinator for Naugatuck Discovery, took the class in Waterbury in 2008 and thought it would be great for Naugatuck to have its own course.

“It just helps you learn how to really get involved in the community,” she said. “I know for me, I think the class is a big reason why I’m in the position I am today, helping parents and young children.”

The class offers a recreate-to-develop group communication, 10 weeks of classes on self and perception of leadership, 10 weeks on practicing democracy skills, and a community project based upon the student’s personal passions that also contributes to the well-being of children in Naugatuck and Beacon Falls.

The course includes on-site children programming for children ages 3 to 12. It ends with a local graduation and a statewide graduation where participants receive diplomas from the Secretary of the State, according to the Parent Leadership Training Institute website.

The course includes instruction on understanding personal history and its impact on perceptions of leadership, thriving and working with diversity, assessing and defining problems — thinking critically, using the media, public speaking, using benchmarks and outcome measures, forming useful coalitions and building community, working with and how to engage the opposition, understanding policy and municipal budgets, becoming familiar with city, state and federal law.

For information about the class, contact Mahoney at (203) 729-1564 or Naugatuckdiscoveryt@yahoo.com.