FORT NOVOSEL, Ala. -- In the age of constant connection through screens, parents and children are often left feeling more disconnected than ever. Fort Novosel playgroup, hosted by the New Parent Support Program (NPSP) through Army Community Service, wants to change that by offering a free and supportive place for babies and toddlers to build those needed face-to-face friendships you can’t find online.
Playgroup is an unstructured time for babies and toddlers, ages birth through three, held once a week for each age group. The atmosphere is relaxed and inviting allowing parents a time to share in conversation while their kids play, said NPSP Social Worker Jessyca Coleman.
“We just do free play. Sometimes we will do a theme like water safety in the summer, or give away boogie wipes in flu season, but mostly it is built for letting the kids play with kids their own age and for parents to build those connections with others in the same stage of parenting,” Coleman said.
Along with socializing, the NPSP playgroup provides learning opportunities for new and seasoned parents alike. Meeting with a specialized social worker, like Coleman, is an invaluable resource offered for our military families right here on Fort Novosel.
“It’s a really great opportunity to get hands on developmental information about your child, to compare with other kids their age. It’s solid evidence-based education,” Coleman said. “We try to have an educational component, but overall, this is their break. This is their time to be supported.”
Fort Novosel mom, Erin Churchill, rarely misses a week with her daughter. Playgroup has given them both a place to nurture friendships they wouldn’t have made otherwise.
“She’s our only child and doesn’t get much exposure to other kids. It’s been influential for her to learn to play with other kids and for myself too as a stay-at-home mom,” Churchill said. “Just to get out and talk to other parents in person and have some social interactions, we love coming each week.”
Coleman encouraged more families to join in on the fun happening at playgroup.
“You don’t need to do anything beforehand. Just show up, bring your kids’ shot records, and we have the form right here for you to register. Your baby will make new friends and, most likely, you will too," Coleman said.
All classes are held at building 8946 7th Ave. next to the Child Development Center. Call Jessyca Coleman at 334-255-9647 for more information.
Current Playgroup Times and Dates
Ages 0-1 | Mondays at 0830
Ages 1-2 | Tuesdays at 0900
Ages 2-3 | Wednesdays at 0930