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First Annual Parenting Festival is a Success

By Eddy Ball
September 2006

Public Liaison Specialist Lou Rozier and Biomedical Librarian Stephanie Holmgren
Public Liaison Specialist Lou Rozier and Biomedical Librarian Stephanie Holmgren swap stories about their busy day working the booths. Both were popular stops for visitors. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

people flocked to the booths
From 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM, NIEHS people flocked to the booths, learning about programs and filling their blue bags with information. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Dick Sloane
Transhare program coordinator Dick Sloane rarely misses a chance to recruit new converts to SmartCommute. Sloane's table offered bus schedules and information about telecommuting, both great ways to break the habit of driving alone to and from work each day. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Employee Services Manager Dona McNeill and Intern Inés Palacios
With a successful event behind them, Employee Services Manager Dona McNeill and Intern Inés Palacios pose with the Festival poster outside their offices in Nottingham Hall. Already, the two are struggling with how to fit even more into the Rodbell Conference Center for next year's event. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Approximately 200 people attended the First Annual NIEHS Parenting Festival on Monday August 7 in the Rodbell Conference Center. With 28 information booths, the event showcased institute and community resources for parents and other interested employees.

Described as "The Ultimate Family Resource," the festival featured information on parenting, health, nutrition and safety along with NIEHS resources for improving the quality of life for employees at work and at home. Institute personnel and representatives of several community agencies answered questions and provided helpful literature to festival visitors. A Spanish Resources booth was available to provide as much information as possible to Spanish speakers.

Representatives from the Library, Employee Services Office (ESO), the Division of Intramural Research, Office of Communications, and Health & Safety Branch were on hand and presented information about childhood diseases, the Employee Assistance Program, student job opportunities, alternatives for commuters and more. Participating community agencies included the YMCA of the Triangle, Durham Cooperative Extension Service, Durham County Department of Social Services - Adoption and Foster Care, the Natural Learning Initiative, Healthy Families Durham, and Durham Parks and Recreation. Jim Mason and Angela King-Herbert were the winners of a drawing for prizes.

As promised in pre-event announcements, festival topics included something for virtually everyone, from new parents to cycling and boating enthusiasts. Two booths offered advice for coping with the typical problems of children of all ages, including information on managing television viewing habits of young children and handling sibling rivalry among older children. Other booths offered information on recreation, active living, family finances, and safety at home and at play. Festival health topics ranged from asthma and living smoke free to nutrition and mental health.

One of this year's festival co-coordinators, Office of Management Intern Inés Palacios said, "I thought the turnout was good for a first-time event, and the visitors' feedback was positive." Palacios's hopes for next year's festival include increasing the participation of various NIEHS labs and community groups and holding the festival earlier in the summer. Employee Services plans to use feedback from the 85 festival goers who completed evaluations to expand the range of topics for what promises to be an even more successful Second Annual NIEHS Parenting Festival in 2007.

The festival was the brainchild of Employee Services Manager Dona McNeill, whose office presents training and events throughout the year to help improve work life for NIEHS employees. McNeill was especially pleased by the dedication of festival coordinators, the turnout at the festival and the comments she overhead at the booths.

"Several times I heard people say, 'This is just what I was looking for.'Apparently, we anticipated important needs for many people, addressing difficult situations they were facing at this point in their lives."

For more information about the Parenting Festival series, contact Dona McNeill in ESO by phone at 541-0451 or by e-mail. Learn more about NIEHS work/life programs at work/life programs.

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