SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- What sets a super sitter apart from an ordinary baby-sitter?
Many teens step up to help their families by keeping an eye on younger siblings or watching the children of family friends, but super sitters are certified by Child, Youth and School Services' (CYS) baby-sitting and CPR/first aid workshops. (You must be at least 12 to participate in the babysitting workshop and at least 13 to participate in the CPR/first aid workshop.)
They learn how to properly change a diaper (all 13 steps), how to be alert to and respond to potentially dangerous situations, how to present themselves professionally to potential clients and how to correctly respond to medical emergencies.
Upon completing the workshops, sitters receive certificates and are added to the Parent Central Services Super Sitter Referral List. U.S. Army Hawaii parents who are registered with CYS may turn to the referral list if they need a sitter for a few hours when other child care options are not readily available.
"The workshops teach good life skills to teenagers, and also (teach) lifesaving skills, such as CPR and first aid," said Kristine Tabbal, CYS instructional programs specialist. "And I'm sure everyone could use a teenager to baby-sit for them here and there."
Added baby-sitting instructor Kara Greene, "The baby-sitting workshop is two Wednesdays out of the month and the CPR/first aid workshop is another two Wednesdays, so it's actually quite a commitment of time (for them) to take the workshops and get the certification."
Six potential super sitters filed into Greene's classroom at the Bennett Youth Center on a recent Wednesday afternoon to complete the second half of their baby-sitting workshop. Although most of them were not yet 13, all were ready to take on the responsibility of baby-sitting in their community.
But first, Greene had them participate in role-playing and group discussions that got them thinking about how they could respond to potential challenges.
During the first baby-sitting workshop the previous Wednesday, Greene had asked them what activities they could engage various age groups in. They came up with suggestions, such as playing peek-a-boo and shake the rattle with infants to playing board games and hide-and-go-seek with older children.
On this day, when Greene reminded them not to divulge personal information to a stranger on the phone and not to answer the door if they didn't recognize the person on the other side, 14-year-old Briana Rables asked, "What happens if the kid runs to the door and opens it before you get there?"
"Good question," Greene replied. "This is why you should always try to be with the child. When you get to the door, don't tell them that the parents aren't home. It's a good idea to keep your cell phone close by, so you can call your parents or a trusted adult if you need help."
When the students discussed how much they should charge clients, Greene offered some helpful suggestions then asked, "Why might it be good to baby-sit for free in some circumstances?"
"You can get experience," said 12-year-old Aaliyah Willis.
"They might recommend you to other clients in the future," said 12-year-old Hunter Larosa.
"So you don't pressure the family into paying," said Larosa's twin sister, Haley.
All six of the students received their baby-sitting certification at the conclusion of the class, which clears them for the CYS CPR/first aid workshop, but not before 12-year-old Miguel Sosa got in one more important question: "What happens if they ask you to baby-sit while you're in school?"
That one was easy.
"You say no," Greene replied.
-- Upcoming Workshops
Youth who complete the Army CYS baby-sitting & CPR/first aid courses earn a trained baby-sitter certificate.
Youth must be 13 years old and must have completed the baby-sitting workshop to enroll in the CPR/first aid workshop. All workshops are held Wednesdays, 4-7 p.m., at Schofield Barracks and at Aliamanu Military Reservation. Dates and times are subject to change.
-- At Schofield Barracks
Bennett Youth Center, Bldg. 9090
2251 McMahon Road
•Baby-sitting workshops are scheduled July 1 & 8, Aug. 5 & 12, Oct. 7 & 14, and Nov. 4 & 18.
•CPR/first aid workshops are scheduled July 15 & 22, Aug. 19 & 26, Oct. 21 & 28, and Nov. 25 & Dec. 2.
-- At Aliamanu Military Reservation
School Age Center, Flag Room, Bldg. 1782
154 Kauhini Loop
•Baby-sitting workshops are Sept. 2 & 9 and Dec. 9 & 16.
•CPR/first aid workshops are scheduled Sept. 16 & 23.
Participants should arrive on time or their spot in the courses will be given to someone else on the wait list. For cancellations, call the SKIES office at (808) 655-9818.