Editor’s note: The Inter-Mountain’s annual Comfort and Joy series will continue in each edition leading up to Christmas.
PARSONS — A program that offers support to several local counties by providing information to parents also presents special holiday activities to make Christmas merrier for families.
Allegheny Highlands Parents as Teachers, with locations in Tucker, Randolph and Barbour counties, is a national program that offers educational support for parents to help enhance child development and school achievement. The free program serves families throughout pregnancy until children enter kindergarten.
Angie Davis, PAT program director in Tucker County, said during the holiday season special activities are offered for families, including festive home visits.
“We do home visits throughout the month where we make ornaments and give them another Christmas book,” Davis said. “We do home visits every month, but at Christmas we do special Christmas ornaments with photos and make keepsake ornaments with them.”
In addition, PATs in each of the three counties offer a holiday event where families can come together and enjoy time with one another. Davis said Santa Claus visited Tucker County’s PAT event, where children also enjoyed playing with old-fashioned toys, decorating cookies and creating crafts.
“In each county we do things like crafts, give books away, visit with Santa – all with different themes but each held to gather families together,” Davis said. “We had old fashioned toys that the kids would play with and we also had crafts for them to do – they decorated cookies, made reindeer food, made ornaments and a key for Santa in case they don’t have a chimney. We also had Santa come, and when Santa comes here, it’s different than going to the mall because all of the kids can gather around him and have more time with him.”
She noted appropriately 25 families took part in each county’s event, adding Santa gave the children a book and a stuffed animal as a gift. All children were invited to wear their pajamas to the annual event, similar to the attire in “The Night Before Christmas.”
Throughout the year PAT schedules home visits to provide useful information and activities that are used to promote “developmental landmarks.” Group connections are also held monthly to create a time for families to join together to create friendships and fun. Screenings for physical, eyesight and hearing development can be organized with the assistance of PAT, and support and encouragement is steadily provided by the program through parent educators and professionals throughout the early stages of a child’s life.