Moms across the world have often assumed that their most important responsibility is to keep their families strong, healthy, and happy. They help to prepare their loved ones for work and school, tidy the house, do the grocery shopping, cook the meals, wash the clothes, and the list goes on. But, when–and how­–do they take care of themselves?

Parenting moms learn about protein

Hope CommUnity Center’s Youth and Families Department (Y&F) has been coordinating their Parenting Program for over ten years to address this matter with the core values being life skills development for moms. This year, they’ve elevated the Parenting moms’ learning experience to a new level. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF IFAS) approached the department with a program that would help to educate the members of the Parenting group on nutrition and the ease of creating quick and healthy meals at home. Y&F has even incorporated workout classes.

“Small steps make a huge impact in their lives.”


Parenting moms snap photos to remember what to look for in the grocery store

UF IFAS’s ‘Cooking Matters’ curriculum seeks to introduce ideas like ‘eating the rainbow’ as a reminder to eat colorful fruits and vegetables and reading nutritional labels to avoid fructose, glucose, and other harmful chemicals. “It reinforces the idea that [the Parenting moms] should make changes in their diet and lifestyle to be healthier for themselves and for their families,” says Y&F staff member Dulce Barrera. “Small steps make a huge impact in their lives.”


University of Florida IFAS’s desire to work with Hope inspired Y&F to bring it full circle and initiate physical fitness to the parenting program as well. “I want to help them feel better about themselves and let them know that fitness is for everyone,” says AmeriCorps Member Bianca Apollon who has brought her passion for physical fitness to the parenting moms as their trainer. She added, “I look forward to having them.” The moms of Parenting continue to challenge themselves and inspire all of us here at Hope.

“I feel good, I feel so good…”


Teresa Chacon working out with Parenting moms

The new programs have been well-received and many of the Parenting moms continue to rave about the acceptance of the new meals in their households. Teresa Chacon, a Parenting mom for over 2 years shares her adoration for healthy living with her fellow moms and influences them to eat right and workout. “I like helping people,” she says, beaming. With busy afternoons and weekends, Teresa makes it a point to make time for self-care and educating her peers. “I feel good, I feel so good. I want to teach people that if you change the inside, you change the outside.”