Learn, Eat and Play! (LEAP)
LEAP (Learn, Eat and Play) is our group programming designed to build peer support and community. Through this program, Friends provides workshops and other needed programs to new moms including sessions for career development and professional skills, mom and baby bonding, maternal mental health, and more.
Nurses report NFP moms are isolated and need more social support. Our LEAP get-togethers have been designed to counteract loneliness which experts now know has a wide range of adverse effects on maternal health (e.g. cardiovascular disease and stroke depression and suicide). Maternal depression presents a risk to child development when a mom cannot provide her baby with stimulation and positive interaction.
Parents, caretakers and kids enjoy spooky story time and Halloween fun at our 2023 Halloween Costume Party for LEAP participants.
Prior to 2020, LEAP sessions and holiday events were hosted in-person to provide opportunities for NFP moms to meet new people and develop social support. They also love giving their babies opportunities to play with other kids during the programs.
When moms get to talking among themselves, they feel reassured and re-energized. According to NFP nurses, they also gain a sense of community that strengthens their desire to stick with the program, despite challenging schedules. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as of March 2020 LEAP sessions are hosted virtually over Zoom until further notice. Although not in community with one another physically, we hold space virtually with engaging speakers and events such as: Mommy & Me Cooking, Early Childhood Literacy, and sessions on maternal mental health.
Since I came to the nutrition session I have been making more healthy meals for my family. I’m exercising every day. I am also looking forward to enrolling at Hostos Community College this fall.
I feel optimistic about the future knowing that there are programs like this one willing and committed to empower people like me.
Volunteers are a huge help in planning and running LEAP session (Even virtual ones!).
Our events combine fun and learning. Topics include content areas such as: parent-child interaction, nutrition, money management, baby massage and CPR. To learn more about volunteering with our LEAP programs please visit our volunteers page.