Health & Human Services offers free educational & lifestyle classes – L’Observateur

LAPLACE — The Department of Health and Human Services has planned a variety of programs to meet the needs of the St. John the Baptist Parish community, including STEM learning sessions, parenting classes, nutrition classes and financial literacy workshops.


STEM Session

St. John Parish has worked in partnership with STEM NOLA for several years to deliver cost-free, hands-on learning to children and families. Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced STEM Live events to transition to STEM at Home. During this time, the St. John Recreation Department, Nalco and St. John United Way sponsored more than 300 kits to be used with virtual STEM sessions themed “the power of wind,” “hearts and stethoscope,” and “simple machines: catapult.”

STEM Live is returning to St. John Parish with an in-person session at 1 p.m. Thursday, July 22 at the Homer Joseph Building at 366 NW Second St. in Reserve.

Health and Human Services Director Kali Price said the theme of this session is “biology,” and children and teens will learn how to make marshmallow teeth models. While completing this STEM project, participants will learn how to take care of their teeth and how to identify different teeth such as molars and pre-molars. Volunteers will be on-site to assist the kids.

This free session is offered to ages 18 and under. Price said St. John Parish is sponsoring 40 STEM kits for the marshmallow teeth project. Registration will be open through July 21 but may close earlier if the 40-person limit is reached. To register, call 985-536-4955.

“I wanted to do something a little different this time since things are starting to open up, and the SHINE program is completed,” Price said.

She added, “I feel that it’s valuable because it gives kids something to do and it teaches them new things. I want to do whatever I can to help kids learn as much as they can. Who knows, this may spark someone’s interest in becoming a dentist.”


Positive Parenting Classes

Health and Human Services will offer Positive Parenting classes at 366 NW Second St. in Reserve. Session One, geared toward parenting ages 0 to 12, will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, July 26. Session Two, focused on parenting teens ages 13-16, will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, August 2.

There is no cost to attend either session, and registration is required. Please call 985-536-4955 to register.

According to Price, these classes allow parents the opportunity to: learn the key principles and strategies to create safe, interesting environments for children; provide positive learning environments for children; use assertive discipline; have realistic expectations of children and themselves; and take care of themselves as parents and caregivers.

By the end of the classes, parents will be equipped with tools to tackle issues with their children in a positive manner while still being assertive with discipline.

The parenting classes came about through a partnership with Child Advocacy Services. These types of resources were also identified through a community needs assessment, Price said.

“For one of the large grants we receive, every three years we are required to do a community needs assessment. We did a survey attached to Parish’s social media page and website and also had in-person surveys. The survey asked a number of questions, and from that we put together polls and focus groups,” Price said. “What was determined was that residents wanted parenting classes, financial literacy classes, and other things of that nature. We started looking to see who we could partner with to provide those services to the residents of St. John Parish.”


Healthy Habits

Health and Human Services has partnered with Cynthia Clifton, nutrition extension agent for the LSU AgCenter, to offer “Small Changes, Healthy Habits” classes for St. John residents. Four sessions were planned at the Homer Joseph Building at 366 NW Second St. in Reserve.

Through these sessions, participants will learn how to make modest, healthy changes in both diet and physical activity. Call 985-536-4955 to register.

Session One, “Small Changes & Physical Activity,” was held on July 16. Upcoming sessions include the following:

  • Session Two, “Pantry Makeover,” will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, July 23.
  • Session Three, “Grocery Store Tour,” will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, July 30.
  • Session Four, “Cooking & Knife Skills,” will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, August 9.

Price said Clifton’s nutrition classes have been a great asset to the community.

“Because of her, the people that have attended our workshops have really gotten healthy and lost weight, including myself. I attended Dining with Diabetes and learned tips in regards to healthy eating. I learned a lot, so hopefully more residents will start to take advantage of the opportunities we are giving them to learn how to live healthier,” Price said.

Additional health and nutrition classes will be held in the future, including a hypertension class planned for August.


Financial Literacy

Demetria Carter, owner of DRC Mortgage Lending in LaPlace, will host a credit workshop with the Department of Health and Human Services at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, July 22 at the Homer Joseph Building in Reserve.

This class is geared toward helping residents improve their spending techniques and practices to position themselves into a better financial position. As a CPA, Carter is an expert in debt management and knows how to look at an individual’s entire financial picture.

Please call 985-536-4955 for more information.