DOVER-FOXCROFT - The Drew Bledsoe Foundation will present its "Parenting with Dignity" program to the public in a free, day-long event on Saturday, April 20, at the Foxcroft Academy gym. The featured speaker will be Mac Bledsoe, father of quarterback Drew Bledsoe of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
"Parenting with Dignity" is being brought to the area by the GEAR Parent Network, a statewide group for parents of children with special needs and a program of Crisis and Counseling Centers. The event is funded through a $5,000 grant to GEAR from the Region III Children's Cabinet. Thanks to grant funding, the entire event will be offered free to the public, including admission, an information packet, a brown bag lunch and on-site childcare. Organizers ask that attendees pre-register by calling 564-3361 or 1-800-264-9224 before April 1 so that luncheon caterers can have an accurate count. The event has a capacity for 1,080 participants.
Although GEAR works with families of children with special needs, the "Parenting with Dignity" program will be of benefit to a much wider audience, according to Helen Jones of Dover-Foxcroft, GEAR's regional representative and the primary organizer of the April 20 event.
"This event is for everyone who touches the lives of children," she said. "Not just parents, but educators, service providers, case managers." The program is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., including an all-day display of community resources for families in the FA lobby. Door prizes will be given throughout the day, with the grand prize a football autographed by Drew Bledsoe.
The event will begin with a brief introduction, followed by a morning presentation from 10:30 a.m. to noon by Jane Card from the Julie Gordon Sullivan Foundation's Youth Alternative Parent Program in Cape Porpoise, Maine. Card will speak on parent effectiveness in resolving conflicts with teens.
After the lunch break in the FA cafeteria, the afternoon program from 12:30-4:30 p.m. will present Mac Bledsoe, a teacher, coach and entrepreneur who has over 20 years experience as a motivational speaker. Bledsoe developed the "Parenting with Dignity" program out of concern for students, a desire to create a more effective learning environment, and to provide parents with resources to help them become more effective. The GEAR Parent Network has promoted "Parenting with Dignity" for two years, since the group first brought Mac Bledsoe to Maine. "We adopted Mac's parenting model and have offered classes across the state since then," said Jones. "We feel so strongly about the power of his message that we wanted him to present it here live, rather than through his videotape series. We believe Mac's program will enhance the lives of children throughout our communities. Mac helps improve the communications skills between parents and their children."
Jones has two children with special needs and has used Bledsoe's approach with her own family. "It works," she said.
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