In 1984, Barry Dickson, a social worker and storyteller who worked with a large caseload of families experiencing barriers to bonding, and Joan Bodger, a therapist and storyteller, planned a pilot project that would serve families identified as “at risk” by the Toronto Children’s Aid Society, a child protection agency.
Called the Mother Goose Enrichment Program, it was based on Barry’s experiments using rhymes and stories with the children in his care and on Joan’s experience in the New York City Head Start Program and her deep conviction of the value of using rhymes and stories orally with children and adults. Celia Lottridge and Katherine Grier, both storytellers and educators, taught in the program with Joan.
The idea was to begin at the beginning with the relationship between parent and baby or young child — to use the pleasure and power of rhymes, songs and stories taught and experienced orally in a group setting to nurture the parent-child relationship and foster family wellness.
After the pilot project ended and Joan and Barry were involved in other endeavours, Katherine went to Celia with the idea of taking the program into the broader community. Together, they sought funding and in 1986, they offered a first project in a daycare in Toronto’s Lakeshore neighbourhood. By the end of 1987, it had evolved into the Parent-Child Mother Goose Program,® a non-profit charitable organization with an active board. Since then the program has grown both nationally and internationally.
In 1998, Mary Fearon and Lori Fritz started the Newfoundland and Labrador Parent-Child Mother Goose Program® in partnership with national founding member Katherine Grier. It began when Katherine offered a storytelling workshop for parents at the George Street Family Playgroup in St. John’s. Lori and Mary attended and soon after they were gathering at Katherine’s to tell stories and work towards starting the P-CMG program in the province. Katherine was integral to building the program from the ground up ensuring they stayed true to the heart of the program. With combinations of federal, provincial, municipal grants and outreach to many community partners, they offered many programs in the St. John’s area and began training across the province.
In 2001, Katherine moved back to Ottawa, Ontario. Over the next few years, Lori and Mary facilitated many programs in the St. John’s region and built government and community partnerships that laid the foundation for the continued growth of the program in the province. During this time, they facilitated P-CMGP teacher training workshops across Newfoundland and Labrador, ran model programs that were used to train P-CMGP teachers, and presented at provincial and national conferences on the impact of attachment, connection and the importance of early brain development. Mary also offered P-CMGP teacher training in Nova Scotia and Australia and was instrumental in the development of the Australian programs. They worked in partnership with the provincial Department of Education to develop training videos for teachers on the importance of oral language play in literacy development and published “Over the Big Fat Waves: A Collection of Newfoundland and Labrador Rhymes, Songs and Language Games”. Both women are dedicated and committed to supporting families, parent-child attachment, healthy child development and building strong supportive communities.
After a long commitment to the Parent-Child Mother Goose program,® Chantal Rodgers and Carol Dwyer were inspired to start the Newfoundland and Labrador Parent-Child Mother Goose Program,® Incorporated in 2018. Chantal has been involved in the program since 2005 when she started as a parent participant with her own four children and Carol has been involved since 2003 when she first started attending with her two children.
Chantal and Carol completed Teacher Training Workshops to become facilitators and both completed the Teacher Training Workshop Facilitators training to become trainers. They both currently share the Co-Executive Director position in the organization.
Chantal and Carol travel around NL visiting family resource centres and offering support to get the Parent-Child Mother Goose Programs up and running.
The CoVid-19 pandemic has had an impact on families and family resource centre staff and it has brought to light the amount of support that families and individuals are need.
Through the organization, Chantal and Carol remain committed to supporting families through in person programs and virtual programs. They are working hard to help families stay connected.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Parent-Child Mother Goose Program,® Incorporated is fully funded by the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Education. We are thankful for the continued support.