By Stefanie Donahue
The Roots program in Blaine has exceeded expectations since it launched last October. By spring of last year, the program garnered the largest turnout of all Whatcom County locations.
Developed by Bellingham-based nonprofit Rebound, Roots is geared toward families coping with difficult life circumstances. The evening program is offered to all ages once a week in fall, winter and spring in Bellingham, Blaine and Everson.
At Roots, parents and children are separated into groups. Parents participate in a sequential enrichment course that’s led by trained facilitators. Financial literacy, healthy living and parenting are just a few of the topics discussed.
Program facilitators lead a variety of activities for younger age groups, including a discussion period where kids learn about making choices, dealing with family challenges and developing emotional and social skills.
“We target any families that want to improve relationships within their family structure,” said Shelli Wood, Rebound family coordinator and case manager.
Roots classes utilize the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports system, which helps parents and children develop behavioral and social supports in order to achieve success, Wood said.
Families often connect outside of class and continue to take the course each quarter just to remain involved with the community, she said.
“It’s not just lecture,” said Rebound executive director Mark Kadel. “It’s more than just a Wednesday night class.”
Organizers kicked off the first nine-week session of the year on Wednesday, October 4 at Life Impact Church, a new and larger space, located at 549 Cherry Street.
“I believe it is imperative for kids and parents to be able to communicate,” said Trent Arneson, lead pastor at Life Impact Church. “This program helps parents and their kids to be able to relate to each other. Communication is key to a healthy environment.”
Arneson learned about the program when it first launched in Bellingham. Hosting Roots at the church was a “no brainer,” he said.
Last year, Roots operated out of two classrooms at Blaine Elementary School and took place in conjunction with the Community Meals Program, a free weekly meal sponsored by the Community Assistance Program at the Blaine Senior Center. Roots grew from 10 participants to 40 between fall and spring, Wood said.
“We started out really small,” she said. “Each quarter, it just got bigger.”
In lieu of coordinating with the Community Meals Program this year, Roots will serve families a free meal before classes begin. The program is free at all locations with a suggested donation of $5, thanks to financial assistance from United Way and private donors, Wood said.
In Blaine, Roots is held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, starting October 4. Fall quarter lasts nine weeks, while winter and spring quarters last eight.
“We want to make this available to everybody,” Wood said.
To learn more, visit reboundfamilies.org.