June 16, 2015

‘Any obstacle is worth overcoming’ – Honoring Ceremony 2015

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Employees, Events, New Horizons Educational Program, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach, Workforce Development Program tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:22 pm by Lund

Today is your day,” said Executive Director of Lund, Barbara Rachelson to the students of the New Horizons Education Program. “I know the path you took to get here today was not always easy or fun, and yet, you endured.  Parenting, pregnancy and being a student, each in their own right presents challenges.  There are lots of ways for you to find to not show up – if your baby is sick, if you didn’t get sleep, if you are having a hard day but you persevered.  I hope that you are glad that you did and you feel proud.  I certainly feel proud for you.”

Six graduates were celebrated for obtaining their high school diplomas at this year’s Honoring Ceremony. Many more students were recognized for academic achievement, college studies, participation in Lund’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach Program, and attendance at Lund’s Workforce Development Program.  It was a joyful and very proud occasion.   New Horizons is Lund’s licensed education program for pregnant and parenting young women but it is so much more than just a school.  It is a place where students find acceptance, support and a community of peers and teachers committed to helping them be successful students and parents.    On a normal school day you are likely to find a teacher holding a baby while explaining how ions are made, students discussing how often their babies use pacifiers over lunchtime or a teacher helping a student follow up with a potential apartment rental during study hall.    Academic achievement and family support are weaved together through every aspect of the program.

Graduates from the Class of 2015 arrive at the Honoring Ceremony

Graduates from the Class of 2015 arrive at the Honoring Ceremony

The Honoring Ceremony is a time when students, family members, staff from NHEP and other Lund programs, community partners, members of the the Lund board, guests and friends come together to celebrate the students’ achievement and progress during the school year.  Babies and toddlers are integral members of the audience and crying (from children and proud adults alike!) is accepted and celebrated.   In addition to Barbara, this year’s ceremony saw speeches from Kim Coe, Director of Residential and Community Treatment Programs at Lund, Ryan Esbjerg from Flex Your Face and Lund Board President Sara Byers.  But the most powerful words came from the students themselves, many of whom stood up to read from speeches they had written.  Excerpts are given below:

“I would like to thank all who have pushed me to accomplish so much.  My daughter is my hope and motivation to get far in life.  Every student here has achieved so much, from doing their best to come to school every day with or without their kids to being able to ask questions when they get frustrated. ” – Brittany, 18, senior.

Mom and daughter addressing the crowd with their words of thanks and congratulation.

Mom and daughter addressing the crowd with their words of thanks and congratulation.

“I like the opportunity Lund gives us for school because it is a better place for us.  We are all teen and young adult moms and regular high school did not work for us.  High school was difficult because we all have kids.  Some of us are single moms and we don’t have people to watch our kids when we need to learn.  NHEP works for us.  When we need to learn, we can bring our kids with us.” – Fatumo, graduate.

“Three years ago I was supposed to graduate, but I put it aside.  I got pregnant and high school was no longer a priority.  With the help of Lund and my teachers I returned to school to finish my education.  They continued to push me to achieve greatness.  I have learned that any obstacle is worth overcoming.”   – Natalie, graduate.

“Every day I come to school and I’m surrounded with amazing and strong women who have struggled and been hurt but they are here choosing to change their life for themselves and for their children.  When you’re here you aren’t judged, you’re accepted and welcomed.  This program has changed my life and I couldn’t be more grateful.  Because of this program, I can watch my daughter grow into an amazing and smart girl while working hard to build our future.  Coming here was one of the best choices I have made for my daughter and myself.   I can finish school and still follow my dreams so when my daughter is older she can finish hers. ”  – Grace.  Student at NHEP since January.

The ceremony was followed by cake, photos and hugs and congratulations at every turn.  “It’s pretty much the best day of the year,” said Courtney Farrell, Assistant Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services, who couldn’t stop smiling all day.  Her feelings were shared by all, especially those students who left the ceremony with high school diplomas in their hands.

June 1, 2015

“Hearing Real Life Stories” – Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach at Lund

Posted in Employees, New Horizons Educational Program, Program Spotlight, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach tagged , , , at 3:49 pm by Lund

Lund’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach Program

Guest Blogger: Kelsey Francis, Lund Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach Specialist

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May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month—a time for youth, adolescents, parents, educators, service providers, and beyond to think about how pregnancy impacts the goals and future of young people, as well as how to protect themselves against unplanned pregnancy and STI transmission. It is also a time to educate and empower our youth and teens to be informed, intentional, and responsible concerning their sexual and reproductive health and wellness.

Last week, we reviewed the current portrait of teen pregnancy and birth rates nationally and within Vermont. Despite great progress in reducing these overall rates over the past 25 years, we also discussed the need for continued prevention efforts, given the immediate and long-term impacts of teenage pregnancy.

One of the many pathways to help educate our community about the realities of pregnancy and parenting at a young age is Lund’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach (TPPO) program. Serving middle and high schools, universities, youth-serving agencies, and community organizations statewide, the TPPO program is divided into two subject areas—the Outreach Panel and the Birth Control Methods Workshop. Together, these components aim to combine accessible information and demonstrations regarding contraception and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention with real-life stories about the realities of pregnancy and parenting at a young age.

Let’s take a deeper look into each component.

The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach Panel is a service in which the TPPO Specialist and current/former Lund clients come on-site to an agency or organization to speak openly and honestly about pregnancy and parenting. The TPPO Specialist discusses statistics and the socioeconomic impacts of teen pregnancy, as well as the services and programs Lund offers to support individuals and families who are pregnant or parenting. Next, the Lund clients share their stories of becoming pregnant at a young age. They address their life pre-pregnancy, choices they made regarding their sexual and reproductive options, their decision to parent or not, their labor and delivery experience, life after labor, how they became involved with Lund, and their future goals and ambitions. After each client has shared her story, the panelists and TPPO Specialist open up a conversation with the audience, taking questions and offering final reflections and advice to their peers.

Lund has also recently expanded its TPPO program to include a Birth Control Methods Workshop. In this comprehensive presentation, audience members are provided with accessible information regarding contraceptive options and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention. The TPPO Specialist leads the workshop, supplementing the information shared with practical demonstrations of each contraceptive method, using demonstration-only samples. Questions, comments, and curiosity are welcome throughout the workshop to ensure attendees are familiar with each contraceptive method’s intended use, availability, effectiveness, and limitations.

Lund’s outreaches have a demonstrated impact on the youth in the audience, and in 2014, 963 Vermont students attended the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach Panel. Additionally, we receive positive feedback from attendees about the information they learned and the messages they remember long after the presentations have ended:

  • “I learned that no matter how hard it is to say no to sex, having and raising a child is harder, and it is important not to give in to pressure.”
  • “I heard about real life teen pregnancy stories and how hard it is for people to go through that situation. I enjoyed hearing the real life stories and the advice that the panelists gave us. I think that hearing about these kinds of experiences was very helpful so that we know the risks that are involved with unprotected sex.”
  • “I learned a lot about the vulnerability of kids at my age, the pressures we are exposed to, and how our decisions now impact us in the future.”
  • “I really enjoyed that the guest speakers were so open about their stories…they have had to deal with life’s struggles, and they are so brave. I am extremely proud and impressed with what they have done with their lives now.”

Lund offers the components of the TPPO program as individual presentations as well as via a combined curriculum. For more information, or to schedule an outreach at your organization, please contact Kelsey Francis, Lund Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach Specialist, at (802) 861-2072, or via email at kelseyf@lundvt.org.

 

May 7, 2015

Taking Time to Appreciate Teachers at Lund

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Employees, Events, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP), New Horizons Educational Program tagged , , , , , at 10:40 am by Lund

Lund staff members took time this week to appreciate amazing, committed and inspiring work of the teachers in our educational programs as part of Teacher Appreciation Week.  We have 3 teachers at New Horizons Education Program (NHEP) and fourteen full time and 2 part time teachers at our Early Childhood Education Program (LECP).  All of these staff members work hard every day to educate, guide, and encourage their students whether they are 2 or 32!

New Horizons Education Program is an alternative high school placement program licensed by the State of Vermont for up to 35 pregnant or parenting students from age 12 onwards.  Older students meet with Lund staff to assess whether our program can best meet their educational needs.  Students come from as many as 15 different school districts per year.  NHEP staff establishes curriculum agreements with each sending school to ensure that students receive academic credit and have the opportunity to walk with their classmates at graduation ceremonies.  Licensed teachers provide instruction in the four core subject areas, as well as art, physical education, life and parenting skills.  Babies aged up to six months can come to class with their moms.   Students at NHEP share common experiences and form a close community where they can give each other support through the challenges of being a young mom.  Last year NHEP began offering the Community College of Vermont’s Introduction to College Studies Class onsite at Lund to allow students to explore further education options after high school.

The teachers in this program work with students on all aspects of their lives.  A recent lunchtime at NHEP saw one teacher helping a student to write e-mails in response to apartment listings she had seen online, another teacher helping a student with her math homework and a group of students enjoying the presence of one of their sons who was a special guest at school that day because his daycare was closed.    Students will frequently state that if it wasn’t for New Horizons they would not be in school and would have no chance of graduation.

Thank you New Horizons teachers for all your hard work.

Ann Klinkenberg, Mary Farnsworth and Kathy Rossman - outstanding NHEP teachers

Ann Klinkenberg, Mary Farnsworth and Kathy Rossman – outstanding NHEP teachers

Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program serves 50 children from birth to aged 5 with consistent, nurturing and high quality care and education allowing their parents to engage in education, employment or treatment programs. For many of the children this program represents the only stability in lives filled with transition and uncertainty. The teachers work hard to ensure that the program is a resource for the whole family by providing connections to necessary resources both within Lund and in the community to ensure that they have what they need to be successful. Examples of these resources include assistance finding housing or food, parenting education, financial education and providing needed clothing or shoes for their children. Parenting is a partnership between the teachers and the families. The program provides the essentials of safety, food and attention and, equally as important, makes the most of this time of crucial brain formation with activities that optimize and prioritize healthy development. The play based program values curiosity, early exposure to art and music and outdoor play. Lund partners HowardCenter to provide embedded counseling and developmental services in the preschool classroom.  LECP is a 5 STAR program, the highest rating in the state’s STep Ahead Recognition System.

Every day LECP teachers sing, do art projects, play outside, work through problems together, encourage children to try new things and teach the importance of being good friends, helpful community members and joyful participants in the world. They are patient, loving and creative.  Every day they value and cherish every child.

Thank you LECP teachers for all that you do.

Some of our truly dedicated early childhood educators.  (The others were too busy to have their photos taken!)

Some of our truly dedicated early childhood educators.

July 29, 2013

“We need a lot more music makers in the world” – Music Together at Lund

Posted in Employees, Residential, Volunteer Spotlight tagged , , , , , , , , , at 12:30 pm by Lund

There is something going on in the blue pod at the residential treatment center at Glen Road.   Voices, clapping, laughing and chatter all wind their way from behind the closed door and out into the hallway.  It is a Thursday morning and some of the residents and their children are participating in a Music Together class led by Joanna May.

On entering the room, you see Joanna in the middle of a circle of three moms, two staff members and seven children.  The adults are all singing and the children are joining in the way that feels best to them.  One little boy wanders away from the circle and his mom tries to call him back.  “It’s OK,” says Joanna.  “He’ll do what he wants to do.”  Everyone is smiling and the atmosphere in the room is friendly, joyful and as calm as can be expected with that many kids and the promise of musical instruments to soon be brought out.

Music Together is a internationally recognized musical education program for babies, toddlers and young children based on the principles that all children can learn to sing in tune, keep a beat and participate with confidence in the music of their culture.   Music Together emphasizes the actual process of making music, not just passively receiving it from recorded sources.  The program relies on adults joining in and being positive role models for the children by actively making music.  As Joanna explains, “A Music Together class is really for both the parents and the children.  There are so many lessons and benefits embedded in each class, but the biggest one for the children may be that they’re given the chance to explore with all their senses, at their own pace, in their own way, in a setting that’s physically and emotionally safe, fun and stimulating. It’s really important, also, that their parent is with them, as a touchstone.”

Joanna brings out the triangles next and adapts the movements based on the how the children are responding.  One little girl covers her ears and Joanna encourages everyone to play softly.  Another boy is gripping the side of his triangle and Joanna invites everyone to do the same and to listen to how the sound is different.  When it is time to put the triangles away Joanna sings goodbye and thank you to them as the children all put them back into the basket.  “It’s a good tip for when it’s time to put toys away,” she tells the moms.

The triangle makes very different sounds when held in different positions and so there is a discernible effect on the instrument from the child's actions.

The triangle makes very different sounds when held in different positions and so there is a discernible effect on the instrument from the child’s actions.

For Joanna, this is one of the most important aspects of the class – providing the moms with tools that they can use to get through parenting challenges.   “One of the moms told me that her daughter started singing one of the Music Together songs while they were taking a walk with the stroller. They then started changing the words based on what they were seeing and doing on the walk. This same mom said she had made up a “Good Job” song that she would sing the first part of, and her kids could sing the response. This is really what the songs are intended for.  This mom had discovered a way of communicating and strengthening her bond with her very young children that was spontaneous, positive and was getting them through transitions in their day.”

Each activity in the class is short and changes before the children lose interest and each involves a different sort of movement or interaction.  The drums that come out after a mid-session dance break are very popular.  Everyone sits around them and the babies in bouncy chairs are pulled close so that they can participate too.  The group experiments with tapping, slapping, and banging the drums.  Joanna sings along with the rhythm.  The children join in completely unencumbered by the ‘way it is supposed to be done’ and many of them fall naturally in with the rhythm that the adults are creating.    Experimentation with different instruments and sounds is very important in the class and it also allows for the parents to experience different ways of interacting with their children.  Joanna says, “For the moms at Lund, they’re getting the chance in class to try out some really nice, maybe new, ways of playing and bonding with their children: rocking, dancing, singing to, tickling, call and response, making up silly rhymes, etc. Positive interactions build on themselves, and the more positive ways parents have of interacting with children, the better.”

Feeling the rhythm through fingers, hands and arms.

Feeling the rhythm through fingers, hands and arms.

At the end of the class, Marie Fetterhoff, Children’s Treatment Services Coordinator, is visibly moved by what she has seen. For her the success of the class is really in seeing the interactions change between the parents and the child.  The class is firmly based on being responsive to the children and really listening to them, which are both at the root of attunement between mother and child, something which is emphasized in parenting education in the program.  “It is so wonderful to see mothers and children experience attunement, sometimes for the first time, through the music and activities of Music Together,” says Marie.

It is clear to see while observing the class how much the children respond to music.  The class is full of joy.  “I really believe everyone deserves the chance to experience the simple pleasure of making music,” says Joanna.  “It’s been a privilege to bring this program to Lund, and to a population of families who might not otherwise have the opportunity. I just think we need a lot more music-makers in the world.”

July 12, 2013

Lund Employees Participate in All Staff Retreat

Posted in Employees, Events tagged , , at 7:41 am by Lund

Lund employs approximately 100 people some of whom often visit different programs and offices and some of whom are focused in only one place or work with only one team.   There is so much happening here and while it all comes under the broad umbrella of helping children and families to thrive, there is real value fore everyone in taking time to learn about what other programs do and how they operate.   This helps the agency to be more unified and to ultimately ensure that we are serving the clients in the best possible way and that they have efficient access to everything that they need.

Education and exchange was the theme of this spring’s all staff retreat.  Each team or department made a presentation about what they do.  Some required audience participation – ‘Hollywood Squares’ from the finance and operations team, Jeopardy from the Learning Together Coordinator, making magic potions and blowing bubble pictures from the Early Education Program and a dramatic reenactment of client intake from the large group of people who staff the many different aspects of the residential treatment program.  There were also informative presentations from the admin and hr team, adoption department, community treatment and development teams.  “I enjoyed the presentations given by each of the programs, where we had to move around the room and have the actual experiences that the clients have when they interact with services at Lund.  It was very informative,” said one Lund employee.

A very exciting introduction was also given to a new system that will help Lund track the outcomes of the programs and services which will have a hugely beneficial effect on the whole agency.  (Stay tuned to the Lund blog for more information on that project)

Even with a whole day in which to do so, it was hard to recount everything that Lund does.

This time to step back and reflect also allowed for colleagues to connect with people that they don’t directly work with. “My favorite was the team building exercise at the end, ” said one valiant Lund employee, “because it allowed me the chance to talk with people and find out more about them.”

Energy was high in the room all day as information flowed back and forth between colleagues and new ideas and connections were discussed.  It was an extremely valuable experience for all and indicative of Lund’s commitment to knowing that a happy, well informed and well connected staff will much more effectively forward the mission of the organization.

Getting to work on bubble pictures with Elsa from LECP

Getting to work on bubble pictures with Elsa from LECP

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Kathy from the finance team gets on with her bubble picture

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Bob getting ready for a competitive game of Hollywood Squares

June 19, 2013

Plants for Lemonade – Basic Economy and Ecology in Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP) tagged , , , , , , at 1:46 pm by Lund

What do you get when you mix lemon juice + water + sugar + Lund employees?  Tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, onions, beans and flowers, of course!

Lemonade3

Lemonade1  lemonade2

How does this all add up?

The older toddlers and their teachers recently pursued a novel way to acquire plants for their newly established raised beds by running a homemade lemonade stand where the refreshing treat was handed over in exchange for a plant for their garden.  Setting up outside Lund’s new building at 50 Joy Drive, the children encouraged staff members to stop by and try their lemonade.  They had plenty of willing customers who handed over tomato plants, strawberry plants, carrot seeds and more.

Early childhood educator, Laura Murphy, explained that there was also a strong educational component behind this exercise as well as it being a great way to fill their garden beds.  “It’s about social interactions for the children and it is also about responsibility and following through on the commitment that we made to the community.  They might not necessarily want to be making lemonade all day but we said that we would be here so we need to follow through on that.  There is also a lot of science involved.  We experimented with lemonade recipes and the children practiced measuring and adapting the quantities to make the lemonade taste good.”

The children were enthusiastic in greeting their customers, handing over lemonade with fancy straws and receiving the plants for their garden.  Having a firm connection to the food that they eat is an important aspect of the nutrition program at LECP.

December 18, 2012

Aimee Marti: Can You Help Lund Children?

Posted in Board of Trustees Spotlight, New Horizons Educational Program tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 2:57 pm by Lund

Produced by Cat Cutillo/Lund

Celebrate this holiday season by changing the life of a child in Vermont.

MAKE A DONATION TO LUND AT: https://give.lundvt.org