Article by Urban Alliance staff.

Ben and Angela Russell, parents to 21-month-old Theodore, experience the daily joys and challenges that all mothers and fathers of toddlers face. They are busy, happy, often exhausted, and always trying their best to help their growing son learn and thrive.

After attending BrightStart™, a free eight-week parenting workshop facilitated by Building Healthy Families that helps parents learn how to enhance their young child’s brain development through practical training based on the latest science and old-fashioned love, nurturing and encouragement, the Russells gained new knowledge and skills, and were eager to learn more. So, they signed up for the next parenting class that was offered by Building Healthy Families.
Building Healthy Families, a local non-profit organization that fosters health in families by building the capacity of parents, recently received grant funding through Urban Alliance’s Thrive initiative to offset the cost of facilitating a Circle of Security parenting class, a relationship-based early intervention program designed to enhance attachment security between parents and children.
Thrive helps churches and ministry organizations reach and serve young children and their caregivers throughout critical developmental stages so they experience nurturing relationships and develop strong foundations for learning.
“We received a grant from Urban Alliance for us to receive Circle of Security parenting training last March,” explained Peter Tullson, Executive Director of Building Healthy Families. “Circle of Security parenting is a natural extension of how we have already been serving parents with young children.”

Circle of Security is an established eight-session DVD parenting education program that offers the core components of the evidence-based and internationally acclaimed protocol. The program presents video examples of secure and problematic parent/child interactions, healthy options in care giving, and animated graphics designed to communicate the principles of Circle of Security.

“The class helped most by allowing us to take a step back and evaluate what we were doing right and what we wanted to improve upon,” shared Angela Russell. “We were able to look at how we were raised and really understand why we react to parenting situations the way we do. I used to put Theodore in a time out when he would throw temper tantrums, but now I really understand that he’s trying to tell us something through his actions. We now take a minute to collect ourselves and then try to process through what he needs from us.”
The Russells are one of 14 families that Building Healthy Families has worked with through their Circle of Security parenting groups this year, in addition to equipping 25 families through their BrightStart™ parenting workshops and 60 parents through their community parenting seminars.

“Too many parents still aren’t aware of the crucial importance of their baby’s early years. Often parents and caregivers under-appreciate the incredible difference they can make in their child’s future success,” explained Tullson. “Ben and Angela were very open and eager to learn. They were able to put what they learned into practice right away and saw the difference it made for their son. For many parents like Ben and Angela, some of the most powerful changes come from getting a better understanding of themselves and their own backgrounds.”

Building Healthy Families plans to offer more workshops, classes and groups that will encourage optimal home environments for parents to foster their baby’s healthy development, that will create a strong foundation for success in school and life. Their involvement in Thrive will help strengthen and increase the impact of their early childhood programs.

And, the Russells will continue embarking on their journey of parenthood, taking with them the toolbox of information they’ve learned from the classes offered by Building Healthy Families.

“Instead of trying to make him happy when he is upset, or telling him he’s fine or trying to take his mind off whatever it is that is upsetting him, we try to just be with him and tell him that we understand. Even though he’s not yet two, I think it is helping him learn to process through his feelings at his own pace. We will never be perfect parents, but this class gave us more tools to be better parents.”

To learn more about Thrive, contact Rosaicela Rodriguez, Urban Alliance’s Director of Implementation, Children & Youth Initiatives, at or 860.986.6052.

Click here to learn more about Building Healthy Families.