By Laura Almaraz
Being a new parent and moving to a new installation can be two of the most life-changing events a person can experience.
Sara Park experienced just that when she moved to White Sands Missile Range about two years ago.
“We didn’t know anybody. As soon as I moved here I looked for a playgroup,” said Park.
She and her son, Zack, who was almost five years old at the time, joined the Mommy/Daddy and Me playgroup offered by Army Community Services at WSMR.
The new parent support program is geared towards getting parents to interact with their children, but also helps parents make friends on the installation.
“It’s wonderful. Social interaction is very good for him. It’s good to interact with others especially people with other children,” said Park, who now volunteers with ACS.
Cinthia Dillon, the New Parent Support Program nurse, coordinates activities to help parents learn to interact with their children. The hands on activities are geared towards teaching parents to learn how to respond to their children while helping them develop basic motor and social skills.
“It’s really instrumental to being able to provide something to the families and provide support especially in White Sands where resources are not as large as a larger installation,” said Dillon, who visits WSMR from Fort Bliss, Texas.
In addition to the playgroup activities, Dillon schedules home visits with families twice a month. During the home visits, she addresses different subjects depending on the family’s needs. She provides information on topics like prenatal care and the labor and delivery process for expectant mothers. Dillon helps new parents adjust to having children in the house by addressing newborn care and safety during developmental stages, and she helps new mothers address post-partum depression.
The playgroup meets mostly every Wednesday on the installation at various places like Volunteer Park, Splash Park, and the Aquatic Center.