SCHINNEN, Netherlands (Oct. 27, 2009) - Fourteen-month old Brendan Owen won't drink milk.

"I tried everything," fretted military mom, Chelle Owen, "but he just didn't seem to like it."

She worried over Brendan until other moms at U.S. Army Garrison Schinnen's Thursday morning Play Group shared similar stories about their children.

"Some kids just don't like milk," Chelle laughed. "All of us, especially the first time moms like me, have these kinds of concerns. Play Group gives us a chance to talk through those issues with a really good support group." Play Group is just one of the services offered through Schinnen's New Parent Support Program (NPSP).

It's the only NPSP in the Tri-Border region of the Netherlands and Germany, so it is designed to serve both Army and Air Force families assigned to U.S. and NATO installations on both sides of the German-Dutch border.

"The more the merrier, we say," exclaimed NPSP Program Manager, Sarah Classen. "The more people who are there to offer ideas and exchange information, the better the program."

NPSP provides support with all aspects of raising a child from birth to age 3, even pre-natal care. Classen teaches several popular labor and delivery classes throughout the year and offers home visits to help with everything from breastfeeding to infant care. "Home visits give parents a little more personalized care so I can answer questions one-on-one or address issues that parents may have," she explained.

It's all part of a larger goal to make parenting a little easier, considering the other hassles military families already face when living overseas. Classen knows those hassles too well. She moved to Germany as a new mother when her husband's corporate job required relocation.

"I remember feeling a bit trapped in my own home because I had a new baby and no support system, no contacts, no way around the language and culture barriers," she admits.

Classen believes NPSP and opportunities like Play Group are important to a parents' well-being and to a child's socialization. "You can learn so much from other moms and other dads," she said.

Starting Nov. 3, Classen offers a new group for parents interested in fitness. The group will meet weekly to walk and exercise with children in strollers. The Community Activity Center at Schinnen will be open for laps when the weather doesn't accommodate outdoor activities.

"One of the biggest needs in this community is child care," Classen observed, "so we designed this group to offer fitness opportunities for parents without having to worry about child care while they workout." It's one more example of how the NPSP covers all aspects of parenting and makes life a little easier for military families.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16