On Saturday, November 4, 2019, over 600 people came to Bester Elementary School for the fourth annual Babypalooza! Designed to support families with young children and those who are expecting, the event offers a fun atmosphere to connect with local resources such as medical professionals, social supports, early learning programs, and more.
Access to local resources promotes Protective Factors for Strong Families, a goal of this annual event. Parental resilience, social connections, concrete supports in times of need, social-emotional growth of children and knowledge of parenting and child development each work together and independently and are the key to strong, healthy family development. Often, families cannot access these resources because they may not be aware of them, may not have transportation to get to them or may not qualify for the service. Babypalooza brings providers and experts directly to the community to lessen the barriers and create connections.
While children had their face painted with emoji’s and superheroes, expectant mothers had their belly painted by local artist and parent, Sandy Gilmer. One attendee shared, “I saw this done last year and I wasn’t pregnant then so I was hoping you were doing it this year, too!”
Parents and children shared play time together at the Early Learning Carnival, a new addition to Babypalooza organized by the Early Childhood Advisory Council. Several partners manned stations focused on various elements of developmental play. The Pediatric Movement Center offered an obstacle course while Discovery Station offered building and stacking with cups and giant blocks. Brittany Wedd, Executive Director, commented, “It was pure chaos and so much fun!” Parents received a booklet showing how to replicate each activity with everyday items they may at home.
The line for the “Take What You Need” section was constant as people found diapers, wipes, infant and toddler clothing, baby blankets and hats, family games, books and more as part of the offerings. Donations are received often at Bester Community of Hope and Babypalooza provides the right atmosphere to get these items to families who may be in need. Chelsea Breton said, “we don’t have a lot of family around, don’t qualify for a lot of assistance and today we got connected to so many resources”. Her husband, Brandon, added, “and as a Dad I now get really excited about baby wipes!”
Each year, lunch is provided at no cost and this year featured pizza, fresh vegetables and dip and cupcakes. “Oh wow…veggies! I’m pregnant and I know he isn’t getting the right nutrition” was the comment of one mother who explained she was financially strained and struggling to make ends meet. After enjoying lunch, the crowd anxiously awaited to hear the winners of the large lot of door prizes. A brand new crib, pack and play, travel system, safety set including video monitor, and baby bath set were a few of the grand prizes. A “Mom’s Self-Care” and “Dad’s Self-Care” set were also part of the prizes and each included a massage, shampoos and lotions, and something for fun, too!
Babypalooza is held each year on the first Saturday of November at Bester Elementary School. Planning for the 2020 event is already underway. Contact us if you have an idea for next year’s event or would like to participate as a resource vendor, donor or volunteer.