Community Enrichment Program
Karsh Center Community Enrichment Group – Patricia is on the far right.
Patricia Mendez, a mother to four year-old Christian and a facilitator at Children’s Bureau, helps run a Community Enrichment class in Spanish and English at the Karsh Center every Thursday morning. During class, facilitators lead activities with kids to practice social-emotional development and language skills while adults enjoy a break from solo caregiving and connect with each other. The program is geared to benefit families with low incomes; although the cost of early childhood education is notoriously expensive, this class is free to participants.
Patricia learned about the Community Enrichment classes from other mothers at a local park and began bringing Christian to the program when he was a year and a half. Patricia felt that when she was a child, her parents didn’t have the time to read or speak to her and promote language development because of their work schedules. She wanted her son to have a different experience and take advantage of every opportunity.
The class was a success. “For me, I really enjoyed it just because I had new ideas,” Patricia said. The group taught her strategies for parenting and activities with Christian. It also allowed her to leave the house and spend time with other mothers. As for her son, Patricia said, “he was able to share or play with other kids. He loved going and missed it after.” When the class ended, Patricia decided to take Christian to the pre-K program at Children’s Bureau. Motivated by an interest in child development and a desire to overcome her self-described shyness, Patricia also joined the program as a facilitator.
For new moms, Patricia has simple advice: enjoy their time with their child and make sure to foster language development by talking to them. She also feels that it’s important for mothers to take care of themselves and know when they need a break from caregiving. But it’s not easy, she admitted.“That’s something I’m still working on.“