Playdates, free food and parent networking are only a few aspects of what the new BYU-sponsored Supporting Student Parents Club seeks to facilitate.
Anisha Smith Hill, Supporting Student Parents Club president, said the club was created to create family-friendly campus events and inform the community about it. Hill and her husband are both full-time students from Mesa, Ariz., who have an 18-month-old son, Ethan, and are expecting a new daughter by the end of the year.
“Our purpose as a club is to provide family-friendly events on campus, as well as inform club members about on-campus and community events and helps,” said Hill, a student pursuing a music major and family life minor. “We are creating a community where student parents can socialize, relate and share what’s important to them. We also want to raise awareness on campus of just how many people can and do still have families while attending school, and to encourage them as they work hard.”
The weekly club meetings, which always offer free food, are held every Tuesday from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in room 3250 of the Wilkinson Center. Not only are students invited to bring their spouses and children, but students who aren’t married or don’t have children are welcome to come learn about young student families.
“While most of our activities are geared toward students who are parents, we welcome anyone who even supports the idea of raising a family while attending school,” Hill said. “Our members are single, married, parents, single parents, BYU alumni, faculty and spouses of students. We love to see how diverse our club members are. We value their perspectives and input.”
A short class is also provided each week, occupying the last thirty minutes, where participants can learn about anything ranging from cloth diapering to infant massaging.
BreeAnn Moore, secretary of the Supporting Student Parents Club, is a student parent who feels passionate about creating a support system for those also starting young families.
“A lot of my fellow students didn’t really know how to react to the fact that I was pregnant, and so making sure student parents are more recognized and welcomed on campus is really important to me,” Moore said. “I’ve also heard other students complain about parents bringing their children on campus, and they might argue that a child belongs in daycare or with a sitter while the parent is at school, but it’s not often possible to find a good daycare situation that is also affordable for a student. Daycare and babysitters are expensive, so student parents rely on responsible friends and family to watch their little ones while they go to class.”
Moore explained that if more students were aware of the difficulties associated with parenting, there would be a higher level of acceptance and understanding for bringing their children to the library or having to work around tight schedules for group work.