Having a very special place for new parents to go to in our own communities is for most of us nothing more than a dream. But 21 years ago in Pacific Grove, California, Gail Root created such a place, a "Parents' Place," and it is still going strong. It's a parent education program offering classes about the prenatal period through age 3 and over 650 families per week attend. Gail also supervises and mentors 23 teachers for the 50+ classes per week. Gail says: "My life has been dedicated to early parent education, as a Bradley childbirth instructor, a lactation consultant (IBCLC), a La Leche League Leader, and an adult school parent educator." The mission and goals of Parents' Place [www.pgusd.org/parents] are clear and deliverable: 1) provide parents with information needed to nurture their children in a positive, healthy, and loving environment; 2) offer an atmosphere of support and comfort which encourages the building of a community of parent-to-parent relationships; 3) honor and respect family in all its forms; and 4) promote a sound educational curriculum that increases parents' confidence and allows for diversity in learning modes. A sampling of the many classes offered: Prenatal Yoga, to increase prenatal health and prepare moms for labor and delivery; Post Partum Support Group, a discussion group about the thoughts and feelings of the postpartum experience; a Gardening Class for the little ones to "work the soil; Tots in Motion, for developing motor skills; and Dad Time for dads and kids only.
Gail is near completion of her Master's degree in prenatal and perinatal psychology from Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. "My Masters thesis was on The Grandmother Effect: The Value of Bonding With Your Grandchild Before Birth. Having immersed myself in research on grandmothering, the evidence was clear that the value of grandmothering extends to the grandmother, the new mother, the new grandchild, the family, and the community as a whole. Research has recognized that these benefits extended to surrogate grandmothering as well."
Gail was a guardian angel to our recent Congress, as she was instrumental in helping with a California First Five grant and, says Maureen Wolfe, "much, much more." Members who attended Gail's open house and tour of Parents' Place were inspired by this rich community embodiment of APPPAH ideals. Keep on keepin' on, terrific lady and grandmother.