Belding school partners with Ionia mental health for family fun


By Cory Smith • Last Updated 10:32 am on Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hunter Chandler, 7, smiles as he plays “Catch Me if you Can” with his father, Gregory Chandler of Belding, during a two-hour event put on by Ellis Elementary School and Ionia Community Mental Health at Ellis. — Courtesy photo

BELDING — For many families, especially with young children in school, the adjustment of life with children at home over the holiday break can sometimes be a challenge and stressful change of pace, but hundreds of parents and children spent time together at Ellis Elementary School to learn various ways to make the transition an easier one to deal with.

Ellis Elementary School and Ionia Community Mental Health partnered together from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday night, offering work sessions for families to come together and receive tips related to anger management, age appropriate discipline and how to have fun at home for cheap.

“Our parents have been involved with several different breakout sessions tonight,” Ellis Principal Tiffany Jackson said. “Ionia Community Mental Health came together and made packets of fun activities for the kids to take home tonight. It’s been a wonderful event.”

Jackson said 144 parents and 176 children were on hand for the two-hour event, which concluded with a dinner of soup and salad for everyone in attendance.

School Liaison with Ionia Community Mental Health Diana Osipsov said parents and children were very receptive of Monday’s event.

“We really wanted to coordinate with the school in doing some workshops and things that parents might find helpful,” she said. “We focused on health and nutrition, wellness and how to have fun at home for cheap. We wanted to help parents find the balance between encouragement and praise and discipline.”

With two hours to fill and many children in attendance, Osipsov said it was important to keep everyone entertained with brief workshop sessions that included games as well.

“I think in each workshop we tried to give them a little bit of information and then open it up to questions and dialog from the parents,” she said. “Everyone was pretty receptive. We had many people asking questions and giving personal examples of situations they are dealing with at home.”

Osipsov and Jackson both said one of the main goals of the evening was to have everyone with a good mindset of how to have fun at home with their children before they left for the evening.

“It was really important to have the whole family here,” Osipsov said. “We wanted to have sessions involving everyone, with games, to make sure everyone was having fun while still learning tips that they can use at home.”

Jackson said she was very pleased with the school’s first attempt at partnering with Ionia Community Mental Health for the event and hopes to have another event as soon as February.

“I am very pleased with our first turnout of this collaboration between our school system and Ionia County Community Mental Health,” she said. “To hear the laughter of both children and parents tonight was my goal. I think everyone came away with a great understanding of how to have fun with their kids at home.”

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