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UW Extension and The Lakes Community Health Center Launch New Parenting Class

March 6, 2012

A new parenting class offered by the UW-Extension Ashland/Bayfield County Family Living Programs and The Lakes Community Health Center will focus on helping area families improve communication, reduce household stress and increase cooperation among family members.

The Family Factor: Strengthening Families through Food, Fun and Face-time will kick off March 26.

The idea for the program came through the need to offer parenting classes in the area, says Dave Beeksma, Director of Behavioral Health Services at The Lakes.

“We are combining the expertise of our organizations with the need for parenting, nutrition, and family enrichment to make for a really well-rounded class,” Beeksma said. “Collaborating with several professionals will also help make the project sustainable and bring in a wealth of experiences and expertise.”

The program will cover research-based parenting principles in a fun, interactive format. Participants will identify family strengths and goals, explore productive ways to handle conflict and stress, and learn effective tools for building confidence and family unity. The six-week course, which includes a dinner at each session, will even offer tips on preparing healthy, affordable family meals.

The program will include learning activities for both parents and kids. After the meal, which features a budget-friendly nutrition lesson, families will take a quick play break with brain-exercising games designed to prepare participants of all ages for learning.

Afterwards, parents and kids will split into two groups.  While parents are practicing family skills, children will participate in their own program focused on fun ways to unwind and deal with everyday ups and downs. Some sessions will feature yoga instruction provided by the Ashland Yoga Studio. Child care from certified babysitters will also be available through a partnership with the Ashland Middle School After-School Program.

After each session, families will receive copies of recipes and family activities.

Beeksma shared that he hopes to have any and all families consider taking the series. “No matter who they are or where they are from, we think they will have a positive experience and learn something helpful.”

Classes will be held Monday evenings March 26 through April 30, 5:30pm-7:30pm at the United Presbyterian – Congregational Church, located at 214 Vaughn Avenue in Ashland. Participation is limited to 10 families.  Families should pre-register by March 19 by calling 715-682-7017. A registration fee will help offset the costs of meals and materials. More information can be found online at, or


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