BENNINGTON — Through the United Counseling Service of Bennington, the Rocking Horse Circle of Support Program will begin a new 10-week session on March 30. The two-hour, once-a-week education class is free and helps low-income pregnant or parenting mothers in the county.
Every Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., participants learn about how substance abuse affects a woman's health, relationships, family, and life management. The program is made possible by a grant from the Vermont Department of Health, Office of Drug and Alcohol Programs, and is facilitated by a substance abuse counselor and mental health clinician.
Christine Ouelletee and Kate Fox who organize the program, said there is a cap set to 13 women and that is already filled. They added that statewide, the program has had exceptional success in the improvement of women's quality of life.
Rocking Horse was started in 1991 in Vermont with the motto "When life rocks you back, rock forward." The most common age group for the program is women between 23 and 40 years old, Ouelletee said.
"It's some education and a lot of open discussion; multiple areas. It's very interactive," Ouelletee said. "We pull resources from a facilitator's guide for what each of the 10 weeks cover. We're able to pull in resources as needed depending on the composition of the group and what the group identifies as an issue in their life. The curriculum is already outlined."
Childcare is available for mothers who wish to attend the program.
A second session will be offered in September. Those who didn't make the list for the spring session are added to a waiting list and are considered a priority for the fall session.
"From what I've heard so far, when people start this group they come pretty regularly unless there's something to keep them from coming," Ouelletee said.
Fox said a pre-evaluation survey is given to participants before they start the program and the same one is taken after the program is finished. This determines how it impacted the women.
Women who have participated can do so more than once. There isn't a typical group who attend, according to Ouelletee, but some women are pregnant, some aren't, some are in a suboxone program as well and others simply attend because a relative who is a substance abuser is close to the participant's children.
For more information, call 802-442-5491.
— Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.