By Edith Valiquette
Every Saturday morning in Bridgeport, 4-H families gather for the Saturday Morning Breakfast Club. During this time, families eat together, have group discussions, and have fun. 4-H staff in Fairfield County created this program as part of its mentoring initiative because it saw the need to strengthen family bonds.
The mentoring program has three components: mentoring, family night, and the 4-H club. Youth are involved in all three activities. Seventy-five youth total are involved in the program and the Extension Office partners with the Regional Youth Substance Abuse Project.
Parents face increasing challenges in providing for their children as wages continue to decline. Some work second jobs while others have enrolled in continuing education courses. When several parents had to miss Family Night Out events for these commitments, we looked for alternative ways parents could participate in the program. And the breakfast club has worked well. The breakfast club has also been a great way to include fathers in the program.
Nearly 20 adults and youth attend this Saturday morning program. The club’s goal is to strengthen the parent-child relationship through group discussion, one-on-one interaction between parent and child, and fun, educational activities. 4-H staff provides a free, full course breakfast made possible by community donations to set the foundation for a better day by nourishing the body.
Each week focuses on a different topic. Some past examples include: creating a collage of their family, family values, trust, communication and working together. Saturday Morning Breakfast Club also focuses on having fun with your family.
During the discussion, a book is passed around that begins with one poetic line. Everyone must write a line of their own that builds upon the line before theirs. At the end of every session, the lines are read aloud and the result is a beautiful poem that sounds as if it were written by one person. The purpose of this activity is to show the inherent and positive connection that exists between people’s thoughts.
The Saturday Morning Breakfast Club has proved to be a valuable way to enhance the mentoring program and increase the family strengthening opportunities in Bridgeport.