It’s celebrated every year on the second Sunday in May and recognizes mothers and motherhood in general as well as the positive contributions that they make to society. But it’s not just a U.S. celebration, despite roots here going back to 1868. In fact, days honoring mothers and motherhood are found in most countries around the world, with many of them joining the U.S. and Canada in setting Mother’s Day as the second Sunday in May. (Wikipedia has a comprehensive list.) In Mexico, Mother’s Day falls each year on May 10. In the UK, the holiday falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent.
In the spirit of the holiday, here’s a quick look at the work Junior Leagues are doing in their communities to help develop the potential of young mothers.
Moms U Matter (MUM) is a project of the Junior League of Calgary, designed to help young mothers learn about nutrition, meal planning, budgeting, and the cooking skills needed to support a healthy family. The MUM program is presented in partnership with Highbanks Society, an organization that provides individual family unit accommodation and integrates support services for young mothers and their children.
Each month, Highbanks residents and JLC volunteers gather in the kitchen to prepare a meal, share the prepared meal, and enjoy fellowship. The goal of the evening is to provide information about healthy and nutritional foods in a kitchen setting and to share the experience of preparing healthy meals.
Another JLC project, Assisting Young Mothers (AYM), is presented in partnership with The Alex, a nonprofit focusing on providing preventive care across the full spectrum of good health. AYM is offered twice monthly and provides at-risk youth with opportunities to acquire effective parenting skills, life skills, and nutritional health and wellness skills. Among the topics explored are effective parenting skills (effective discipline, sleep routines, first aid and CPR, home safety and early literacy), life skills (self-image, financial literacy, goal setting, personal safety) and nutritional health and wellness skills (menu planning, budgeting for healthy meals, cooking skills, exercise).
The newest program of The Junior League of Wichita is Combating Child Abuse by Empowering Teen Moms, set to begin in the upcoming 2017-2018 year. The project will leverage the expertise of community partner Wichita Children’s Home and the resources and manpower of JLW to form a unique partnership aimed at preventing child abuse in an especially vulnerable and underserved population: teen mothers. Through activities that foster parent-child bonding, nurture effective mentoring, support and incentivize good parenting practices, the project has the potential to transform a vulnerable segment of our community, two lives at a time.
An important aspect of the project is celebrating the young mothers by providing the resources necessary to mark milestones and holidays. Celebrating milestones and holidays provide a meaningful way to encourage young mothers to embrace motherhood.
The Junior League of Ann Arbor developed the Strong Moms Strong Girls (SMSG) curriculum in 2006 to address the challenges of relational aggression such as gossiping, spreading rumors or threatening to reject or exclude someone. Negative perceptions of the connections and relationships within this “girl world” can influence self-esteem, ability to cope and overall mental health. The program encourages girls to think critically about the messages they are given to identify with, to challenge unrealistic ideals imposed on them and how these unrealistic ideals can negatively impact their relationships.
The program promotes healthy and empowering connections between girls, between mothers, and between mothers and daughters, and aims to familiarize parents, educators and caregivers with the uniqueness and intricacies of relational aggression and how to reduce its impact on girls.
So take a moment this Mother’s Day to salute the moms in your life – for the work they do at home and at work, and for the positive changes they make in their communities.