iParent Network – a ‘virtual town square’ for Mansfield, Ashford and Willington – to be launched in September 2009.
iParentNetwork, a Web site currently in development, plans to offer 21st century technology tools to get parents talking to one another, and providing support and encouragement to each other, to help kids grow up in safe and healthy ways.
One of the goals also is to bridge the “digital divide” between parents and their children, who are often much more experienced with the new communication technologies.
The iParentNetwork is funded by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and is one part of an initiative to create a prevention framework for young people. A Steering Committee coordinates the development of this Web site and other initiatives.
This project began with a committed group of parents, teachers, professionals and other community members who came together to brainstorm ways to collectively help keep kids safe and healthy.
They collected information and spoke to many others in the community, and discovered that the tri-town area of Mansfield, Ashford and Willington has a substantially higher rate of alcohol and substance abuse than the state average. They wanted to know why, and to find ways to make changes.
They also learned that parents have many other concerns they want to talk about with other parents.
The three towns share a regional high school, but parents said they find it difficult to make new connections with other parents once their child reaches high school.
After researching this topic for a year, the committee determined that the best way to bring about meaningful and lasting change is to give parents a way to feel – and in fact, to be – more connected to each other, and provide access to information and resources on a range of topics of interest to parents.
The i-Parent Web site is meant to create a “virtual town square” where members of the three communities can meet and “talk” to one another about the challenges of being a parent; compare tips and strategies with others and learn from experts; get information about what’s happening in town; find a babysitter or a play group; talk about curfews – and much more.
The iParentNetwork will be a living Web site connection that will grow to become what its members want it to be.
Interested community members can visit one of the next meetings, which are held on the third Thursday of the month. Or contact the Project Coordinator Ruth Freeman at PositiveParent@earthlink.net.
Or you can join the iParent Network and to stay informed about its development and launch, by sending your email address to email@example.com.
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