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“My experience with FAST”: a newly single mom finds strength in her community
A mother who participated in FCFC’s Families and Schools Together (FAST) program wrote to us to say what a difference it made for her and her daughters. FAST uses weekly family sessions set within a child’s school to strengthen the relationships between the parent and child, and between the family and school. Thank you, Sara, for this letter!
Hello. My name is Sara and I was involved with FAST as both a family participant, but also as a Parent Partner. I’d like begin by explaining a little about myself and family. I was a new resident in a community that I didn’t have any connections with, was nervous about sending my girls to school, and also a newly single parent.
I joined FAST with my oldest daughter, and we immediately were impressed with how well the program runs, and how great it was to have a night to bond and spend time focusing on our family unit with no distractions. Having dinner together allowed us to be able to just sit and talk about our day, with no cooking or clean up. We enjoyed singing and playing charades, as well as child-led play time. I could see how much my daughter was comfortable with opening up and expressing herself in this environment. The parent time was also great to get to know other families with children in the school system and to talk freely about what we chose to. Myself and my girls have friends that I still keep in touch with from our experience.
I was then asked if I wanted to join as a Parent partner, and of course, accepted. I could see how much FAST was a blessing to my family, and I couldn’t wait to participate with a new group of families to watch them strengthen their bond and grow.
"I went from being a new divorcee in a new community, not connected with
the school or any of the other parents, feeling alone. After our
experiences, we now have a complete network of friends that I could
genuinely count on. My girls have made friends, too."
Seeing the other side of the FAST program was rewarding, as I felt as though I, too, became a dependable, contributing force in our community. My confidence in my school and the community has strengthened too. As we wrapped up our session, I loved being able to provide positive feedback to each family as we watched them grow and find a new sense of confidence.
We participated in FAST again this year when my youngest daughter started kindergarten. She is very shy, and I believe that our participation helped her feel comfortable coming into the school smoothly and also come out of her shell. We met even more families in our second session. They were great to get to know, and we let them know that we are all here to support our families.
What also resonated with me through my experience was my sense of strength within my community. I went from being a new divorcee in a new community, not connected with the school or any of the other parents, feeling alone. After our experiences, we now have a complete network of friends that I could genuinely count on. My girls have made friends, too, that we see outside of school often.
Although we were connected with FAST to strengthen our individual family unit and school, I have a much stronger sense of security in my community. I applaud the efforts at the school to educate our children. With too many families being caught up with two working parents or single parent families, I wish there were more programs like this to be involved with to continue to build strong communities. We were blessed to be a part of FAST.
Cuyahoga County FAST recently received a Best Practices for Sustaining FAST Award from the national Families and Schools Together (FAST) program. The award recognizes Cuyahoga County for its “commitment to maintaining a vibrant FAST community for over 10 years.”