Institute aims to inspire, educate parents in Merced

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comFebruary 5, 2014 

Experts say parents don’t realize how much power they have to inspire their children. A Parent Institute scheduled Saturday at Golden Valley High School aims to give adults the tools they need to see their children succeed.

Rosa Barragan, a child care resource and referral supervisor with the Merced County Office of Education, said 524 parents have signed up for the institute, which runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the school at 2121 E. Childs Ave., Merced. Fifty exhibitors and 82 volunteers are expected to participate.

“We are encouraging parents to inspire their children to dream big by calling their attention to the important role they play in the lives of their children and in our community,” Barragan said.

Joseph Castro, president of California State University, Fresno, will be the morning keynote speaker. Fresno television news anchorwoman Graciela Moreno will be the closing speaker. Parenting expert Sunny Chico of Chicago also will speak.

The institute, the first for Merced, is intended for parents, grandparents, guardians and caregivers. Forty-two workshops are planned in English, Spanish and Hmong, according to Sol Rivas, assistant Head Start director with MCOE.

“All parents have leadership qualities and care about their children,” Rivas said. “They (parents) are a child’s first teacher. Parents need that extra push to say, “You can do this.”

No other individual can be more effective than a parent, Barragan said. Merced has many great parents who are lacking the right tools, who could become big partners with school districts and health care organizations in betterment of the community.

Participation in the institute is free. A broad range of topics focusing on parent leadership, competency and advocacy are planned. Sessions will address issues that impact education, health, safety and development of children and youth.

“The ultimate result is a healthier community,” Barragan said.

The Parent Institute is sponsored by MCOE, First 5 Merced County, The California Endowment, Between Friends and the county’s Human Services Agency.

Sun-Star staff writer Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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