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Mothers Acting Up and Raging Grannies cannot seriously improve childhood education, despite their goal to do so, because they are too focused on protesting the war, and too loud and silly.

Those were my thoughts after reading the Camera’s May 12 Mother’s Day parade story. A day later, I talked by phone with a Broomfield doctor, who didn’t know the mothers and grandmothers but still made a good point.

“Mothers have a very key role in promoting these causes, so we need those marching mothers,” said Dr. Chris Marchioni. She added, “We need them just as much as what I’m doing” as we collaborate with different talents and skills to meet children’s needs.

Marchioni, a board-certified family practice physician for 23 years, is the executive director of the Broomfield-based nonprofit organization, Healthy Learning Paths. It provides educational programs geared toward children’s health issues and children’s learning issues.

This group gets it — or rather promotes it. Children can’t be successful in school if they don’t have good health practices.

Marchioni said she saw children struggling with health issues that were “very much preventable” and children not in school because they weren’t having “appropriate health interventions.”

She wanted to do something about that, but was limited in the office, so she left her practice. Now, Marchioni and the group took health experts and partnered them with educational experts and put together a curriculum addressing children’s health and learning needs.

Clearly, one person can’t do all that. Healthy Learning Paths relies on eight staff presenters, 12 advisory board members, 30 to 40 volunteers, and numerous donors, supporters, and grants and scholarships. Seminars are free to participants.

But, what about those acting-up mothers, raging grandmothers or anyone else? Can we all be brought into supporting a program focusing on education for a healthy lifestyle? Our efforts don’t need to be under the same umbrella.

“You’ve got to find that energy, capture it, direct it. I’m telling you it really does take all of us,” Marchioni said.

Juliana Forbes, co-founder of Mothers Acting Up, said: “Whether you participate with this doctor or not, the point is to have mothers and grandmothers start becoming the ones who are going to take action. That’s what Mothers Acting Up is. Here is an entry point. Here are some tools. Here is how to really include advocating as an essential component of our mothering roles.”

With lots of energy of her own, Marchioni told of her organization’s “very exciting” pilot program at Emerald Elementary in Broomfield. In a collaborative program with the pre-school teachers, a health-care provider teaches the class health topics.

The big topics covered are nutrition, sleep, exercise, mental health/stress management and safety. Students learn these through movement, reading, music and hands-on strategies for about an hour once a month. As part of the program, the kids and parents will be tracked for four years for behavior changes.

This program truly is exciting and so needed. Currently, the group has offered interactive seminars on a variety of topics in Broomfield, Aurora, Thornton, Louisville, Superior and Boulder. All of them are free and some offer certificates for educational credit. A complete list is available at their Web site. They are in the process of translating all their programs into Spanish.

During the Mother’s Day parade, Joellen Raderstorf, a co-founder of Mothers Acting Up, yelled, “Ain’t no power like the power of the mama.”

That statement is easy on my ears and rings true. Still, I can say from experience mamas surely do better with papas. But that’s a topic for another day.


Source: Published May 18, 2008, under “The power of the mama” Daily Camera


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