KITS Class Calls for Black Parent Involvement
By Dianne Anderson
How parents relate to their kids in those first years of life sets the stage for what they will be when they grow up, but until now, parenthood never came with a manual.
Starting September 7 through November 2, parents and caregivers of children up to five years old are invited to come out and learn how the kids are thinking, and ways to guide them toward a successful adulthood. Best of all it’s free!
Through KITS, the Karnig Infant-Toddler Success classes, parents can learn the science behind child brain development, and the importance of creating a better bond.
Free childcare is offered for parents, who will get new tips for positive reinforcement strategies and learn what’s really behind the terrible twos and the tantrums of the horrible threes.
But the first step to being a great parent is the ability to destress.
Classes start with deep stretches and yoga moves, and include a free light dinner. All childcare workers at the site are CSUSB students.
Erin Brinker said that because the community at large is about 70% Latino, the program is trying particularly hard to reach out to the Black community for participation.
“We do have people, usually moms and babies, who are African American in one or more of our programs, but we continue to reach out. I would say that [reaching] the Black community is a critical priority for us,” said Brinker, director of Programs & Development for the Making Hope Happen Foundation.
Classes run nine sessions, two hours each, and is focused on how parents respond to stressful situations. Because a child’s brain activity is closely connected to how their parents respond to them, the class will discuss better choices and discipline methods to build up a child’s brain the right way.
Getting parents into effective strategies earlier rather than later is important as stress levels interfere with brain development, and can negatively impact kids into adulthood.
The program continues its goal that was shaped close to the heart of Dr. Albert Karnig, who was part of the formation of KITS from its inception. Brinker was also one of the original four who were part of the project initiated by the late Dr. Karnig in 2016.
With the blessing of Dr. Karnig’s widow after he passed away in 2017, she said they were able to merge the program with the Making Hope Happen Foundation in 2018.
“It was such an earthquake when he passed away, he was a giant,” she said.
In a 2016 interview with the Precinct Reporter, Dr. Karnig talked about the importance of early childhood programs, and how by the time toddlers are three years old, their brain is already over 80% developed.
Dr. Karnig was especially interested in Cortisol, known as the “stress hormone,” and how it is released in times of stress for the parent, but can also create chronic stress for the child, particularly in situations of abuse. Without early intervention for the parent, he said the cycle of abuse is almost certain to repeat with the next generation.
“It was there that I got interested in issues of development and the impact of cortisol on abused children, and that 95% of child abusers were abused themselves,” said Dr. Karnig when the program first launched.
Brinker is also reaching out to the community through another Foundation program, Uplift San Bernardino, which is a collective impact initiative with over 50 partners. The goal for that outreach is to build a generation of successful adults, with programs covering housing, small business development, workforce development, research and community engagement.
For the first time since the pandemic, the Science of Parenting classes are being held in person and she said they are pulling interest through recent park and community outreach events.
Classes will be held Wednesdays from 5:45-7:45 p.m., located at Inland Career Education Center at 1200 North E St., San Bernardino. They also offer online access to class materials, and graduates earn a certificate of completion.
In the last six years, the program has served nearly 700 people in the community.
In the first hour of class, she said parents can engage in a yoga class to unwind from parental stress, share with other parents, and get linked into many other self-improvement classes to build up their own futures.
“We do that to help people decompress. Child care is provided for all our programs. The second part is enrichment, for specific issues like potty training or it could include business development, whatever the parents want,” she said.
To register and for more information:
www.infanttoddlersuccess.org or (909) 347-7313