Babypalooza 2018 was the place to be for young families in Washington County on Saturday, with close to 800 individuals entering Bester Elementary School on a cool autumn day, close to four times more attendees than the same event in 2017. Now in it’s third year, Babypalooza was created as a community baby shower to support expectant parents as well as young families with children from newborn to five, helping to develop community connections and obtain supportive resources.
“I think it’s an awesome experience for the community,” explained Amy Palfrey, CPNP of the Children’s Doctor. Her co-worker Miranda Turnblacer, CPNP agreed, explaining, “We want to show families that there is good pediatric care here and available in their community.” The school was packed with families taking advantage of all the opportunities, including local parent Leticia Diaz. “I’m here for support and resources. Maryland Excels was here so I’m thinking about daycare options for my kids which will help me work and support my family without stressing because I’ll know they’ll be taken care of.”
Towson University nursing students from the Hagerstown campus were present in big numbers to provide resources on birth control, postpartum depression, as well as providing safe sleep demonstrations and teaching swaddling techniques. “The turnout was a lot bigger than I expected,” explained Towson Nursing student Madison Null. “There were a lot of pregnant moms, or those with young kids who were asking about our information. I think it was very helpful and useful because we were being asked lots of good questions.”
The Family Center of Washington County joined to provide opportunities for families including educational supportive services, with their staff members Anthony Bostic and Jamie Matthewson onsite. “I think it’s an awesome opportunity to get connected to community resources and for agencies to get the word out about what they do,” Matthewson explained. The Community Free Clinic of Washington County was also present and able to offer a variety of resources, and commented on the positive engagement with so many thankful participants. CFCWC Board President Major Warren explained, “We identified a lot of parents and mothers who were lactose intolerant, so we were able to respond by bringing 28 cases of formula specific to the need, and we were able to give it all away to very appreciative parents.”
Aside from a variety of great information and resources, there were also activities such as face painting, a clothing exchange, a diaper giveaway, family photographs and a meet & greet with Minnie & Mickey Mouse to go along with lots of door prizes. Valued partner It’s a Blessing to Be a Blessing was onsite feeding the community at no cost. On the way out of the event, grandparent Theresa Marshall was pushing a stroller and explained, “I’ve never been to this before, so I came with my daughter and grandchildren. Although we didn’t win any of the prizes there was still lots of great information here.” Local parent Kayla Shetler celebrated with her friends and family after winning one of the five grand prizes, a basket with pillows, blankets and camping gear. “Oh, she’s [my daughter] gonna love my prize!”
Jessica Burton, a parent who took the opportunity to get a photograph of her children with Mickey and Minnie Mouse (above) explained why she took the time to participate, “It’s a great opportunity to bring the community together and support each other as families. It’s important.”