• Good Beginnings builds on success
     | February 21,2014

    MONTPELIER — Good Beginnings, an organization that promotes optimal health for newborn babies and support for parents, is holding its second annual Baby Expo event — a fundraiser that the organization said has largely contributed to creating awareness of the group in the past year.

    Alison Lamagna, executive director of the central Vermont chapter of Good Beginnings, said the organization has seen a lot of growth in the need for its services in the past year.

    “We typically serve 100 families,” Lamagna said. “At the halfway point this (fiscal) year we’ve already served 106, so we’re potentially looking at doubling the number of families we’re serving.”

    Lamagna attributes much of the organization’s growth to awareness created by last year’s Baby Expo, the group’s largest fundraiser of the year. This year’s event will be April 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Berlin Elementary School. Lamagna said the organization expects 40 to 50 vendors to be there displaying their products for families and children, including many, if not all, of the organizations that participated in last year’s expo.

    “Last year we had anything from farm programs to camp programs to a pediatric office to birthing services, doulas, midwives and clothing vendors,” Lamagna said. “All sorts of businesses and organizations that have services and products for children and families.”

    Some of the programs featured in this year’s event include workshops for parents, instruction and demonstrations on different types of infant carriers, cloth and diapering training, prenatal and postpartum fitness workshops, and fun activities for kids such as live music and entertainment, face painting, games and prizes.

    One of the quirkier events will be the baby crawling Olympics, which is exactly what it sounds like. Lamagna said each baby who participates will receive a free book as a prize.

    The main event of the expo, “the baby-wearing fashion show,” will take place at noon. The event, sponsored by Zutano, features mothers, fathers and grandparents walking down “the red carpet” displaying their baby-wearing skills and demonstrating how to put a baby on the front or back side.

    “This event ties in with our initiative of early bonding,” Lamagna said. “Baby wearing is a good way to create this bond. The event was a big success last year. We had kids carrying their baby dolls down the carpet too.”

    One of the new programs Good Beginnings will be initiating at this year’s expo is the “daddy tent,” a special area with a focus on fatherhood. There will be resources for dads, as well as games and activities for dads to do with their kids.

    Lamagna said the program for dads ties in with the organization’s initiative “Dare to Father.” The program, which will start after the expo, includes a series of challenges and activities for fathers to do with their children, culminating on Father’s Day with a dad-and-kid canoe excursion. Fathers can preregister at the expo, online at www.goodbeginningscentralvt.org or by phone at 595-7953.

    Dads who complete more than five challenges will be entered for prizes, with those completing 15 or 20 being entered for the grand prize, golf at the Northfield Country Club.

    “Dads are a population that sometimes gets left out of the picture,” Lamagna said. “There’s not anything special out there for dads, so we’re excited about this program.”

    Good Beginnings offers other programs. The first is a space at its office at 174 River St. in Montpelier called “the nest,” which serves as a resource center for families. The room is open Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and has various parenting-related activities on the first, second and third Thursdays, including question-and-answer with a midwife, the Babywearers of Central Vermont, and the La Leche League. All activities are open to the public.

    The organization also offers a parenting education workshop and collaborates with Central Vermont Medical Center to have trained Good Beginnings volunteers provide hands-on care under the supervision of nurses to vulnerable infants with medical issues. The organization also continues to offer a postpartum home-visiting program.

    “So many exciting things happening and so much growth,” Lamagna said. “We’re excited about our programs and the expo so the community can continue to learn what we can do.”

    For more information about the Baby Expo and Good Beginnings and its programs, call 595-7953, visit its website or click on the group’s Facebook page.

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