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Program Helps First Time Parents


Newly born babies receive vaccines at a hospital in Aksu, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region August 10, 2012. Half of China's 1.34 billion population live in cities and towns, according to a census on April 28, 2011 that pointed to the daunting tasks ahead

Today on the program, we talk with a Roman Catholic clergyman about a unique program that helps young people get out and stay out of criminal gangs in a large American city.


Hello, and welcome to the Monday edition of As It Is, our daily show for people learning everyday American English.

I’m Christopher Cruise in Washington.

Today on the program, we talk with a Roman Catholic clergyman about a unique program that helps young people get out and stay out of criminal gangs in a large American city.

“Convincing people to give us money to fund this place, that’s hard. Convincing law enforcement and others not to demonize anybody, that was hard.”

And we take you back 162 years to the beginning of a new way to make clothes and pay for products. What happened then changed economic history and is having an impact on us today.

“You can have it delivered to your home for just $12 down, and you can pay the balance for as little as a dollar twenty-five a week with the Singer Budget Plan. See it -- the sewing machine for young homemakers.”

But first, we report on a program that teaches first time parents how to help their children be healthy and happy.

Making Happy, Healthy Babies
A program in the American state of Virginia is helping tens of thousands of new parents and their babies every year -- even before the children are born.

“Healthy Families” works with the parents during pregnancy through the first three years of the child’s life -- a time when the brain develops the most.

Julie Taboh visited the program and tells us about it.

“Good job!”

Vijan is a happy baby. He likes to explore. He is very sociable and developmentally right on target.

“Good Job! Look at you standing! Awesome!”

Tina Fontaine is one reason for his successful development. Ms. Fontaine is a family support worker with Healthy Families. She has been visiting Vijan and his mother, Bhawana, before he was even born.

“One, Two, and Three!”

She uses books and everyday objects to teach the first-time mother how to support her baby’s development.

“The purpose is to build a bond between the parent and the child and to help the child get ready for pre-school.”

During this visit, Ms. Fontaine urges the new mother to read to her son.

“How about mommy read the book to you? Can mommy read the book to you? Yeah? You like that idea?”

Bhawana recently moved to the United States from Nepal. She enjoys Ms. Fontaine’s visits.

“She’s like my sister. She’s come, always coming and play[s] with us, play[s] with my baby and I like, she’s like my family member.”

Ms. Fontaine also helps 19-year-old Eboni Vaughn. She is five months pregnant with her first baby. Ms. Vaughn has been meeting with Ms. Fontaine every two weeks for the past several months.

Like Bhawana, Ms. Vaughn likes the help the program gives her.

“Miss Fontaine’s visits mean a lot to me because I don’t have someone I can come home to and talk to daily about what’s been going on. So with Miss Fontaine coming, I can express ‘this is what I’m going through, this is how I feel.’ She won’t judge me or the situation. She just gives me the best, best advice.”

Healthy Families is part of a national network of home visiting programs throughout the country.

I’m Julie Taboh.

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