For the past three years, the Early Years Centre has been offering the TLC (teaching and learning with your child) program to young mothers in the Cornwall area. On Weds. Jan. 25, seven participants graduated after completing a 20-week-semester in the program.
From left, Jennifer Deruchie presents a TLC certificate of completion to Nikeylee Richer and son, Chance with with Carrie Ouimet. The graduation ceremony took place at Cornwall’s Early Years Centre on 130 Sydney St.
The program gives young mothers the opportunity to complete their high school education without compromising their role as a parent. It also allows moms to connect to others in similar situations, and equips them with the tools they need to be successful in both roles.
The program is provided in partnership with TR Leger, Saint Matthew Catholic Learning Centre, the City of Cornwall, Seaway Community Health Centre, and Ontario Early Years. The Agape Centre also donates groceries at each of the weekly sessions, with Charmic Limos taking care of transportation.
In the mornings, moms get to enjoy teach-and-learn with their kids. “That’s where they really get to see their child’s progress,” said Rachelle Doth, who is ECE with Ontario Early Years. Later, they prepare a healthy meal under the instruction of SVCHC dietitian, Jessica McLeod. After lunch, childcare steps in, and the moms go upstairs for Triple P group, which focuses on positive parenting.
The program boasts a laid-back environment which Jennifer Deruchie credits for the tremendous success rate. Deruchie, who is a Mental Health Counselor/Child and Youth Mental Health at the Cornwall Community Hospital, says that the atmosphere has been instrumental in bringing moms to the program.
“We’ve had some moms who have come, and they’re so anxious, so even getting here was a big success for them,” said Deruchie. “To see them stick with the program and develop friendships with the other moms is just wonderful.”
The program is designed for women between the ages of 16 and 25, and helps students to overcome obstacles common to young parents. Deruchie stresses the importance on learning about services within the community and how to access them in a way that leaves judgement out of the equation.
“We each work with different agencies, but we all help the moms to build positive coping and parenting strategies that help children to develop and grow,” said Deruchie. “It teaches skills that help parents feel confident that is so important for these young moms.”
“This is my second time being part of the TLC,” said Nikeylee Richer who spoke during the graduation ceremony. “My TLC journey has been an amazing experience. I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime. The ladies here are wonderful and always ready to help answer questions. Our children have also made new friends, and learned to get along, but we probably would have never met if it weren’t for the community coming together and making this all possible.”