Our community continues to be richly served by South Sound Parent to Parent (SSP2P). The organization offers a diversity of programming for families and children who have chronic illnesses, developmental delays or disabilities. Established over 30 years ago by parents and the professionals who work with them, the agency continues to identify ways to help all members of the family. Services support the extra demands of parenting and recognize that parents can be a significant help to each other.
The agency keeps its attention on the pulse of the people it serves and to our changing times.
In the first days of the pandemic, SSP2P switched to online and remote access to keep people safe and still connected. All programs remained in place and some even increased in frequency. More families were able to connect. SSP2P is pleased to welcome Mo Jackson as the new DEI Coordinator. It is an acknowledgement of the importance that everyone can learn about diversity, equality and inclusion. “It’s exciting and definitely different than anything before,” says Mo, who brings energy and compassion to the new position.
Mo develops and provides continuing education for the entire team at SSP2P, which includes the Early Intervention staff and specialists, family resource coordinators, home visitors and the supportive administration and staff. These on-going trainings make a difference on many levels. “I’m an avid learner,” says Mo, who encourages this in others.
Training for team members can be a self-evaluation and learning experience. Raising awareness and shifting cultural norms usually takes time and attention. Sometimes we have held onto beliefs for so long we don’t even recognize the results they create. “Uncomfort comes from ingrained biases, and comes from the unknown,” suggest Mo. Difficult conversations ensue because we don’t even know what words to use or ways to appropriately express our feelings. It is not easy for me to admit that my open mind was closed more than I thought. Having Mo on staff gives everyone a person with whom to talk and ask questions. “I keep an open-door policy,” says Mo. “I am being honest with where I am, and where I have been.”
As individuals grow in awareness, Mo provides support to the SSP2P team members so they can incorporate these concepts into their contact with parents, children and families. For example, the definition of family is expansive. For some it may be a mom, dad, and children, all with the same skin color and with traditional gender roles. Mom is female and dad is male. Many families do not fit this mold and are different. Families may have varied skin colors and adults and children are not cisgender, which is a person whose gender identity is the same as their assigned sex at birth. Families include people who are lesbian, bi-sexual, gay, transgender, queer, intersex, or asexual. Not everyone is comfortable with everything.
Labels can be inaccurate or misleading. “Let people label themselves, which may not be as we see them,” says Mo. That’s why we need to be talking to each other. People are paying more attention to pronouns. If you are uncertain the way a person wants to be addressed, Mo explains that it is fine to simply ask, “What pronouns do you use?”
Cultural sensitivity is another area to explore. “I come from a loud family,” says Mo, adding, “Loud people are not always angry or aggressive.” However, for some this kind of environment can feel unsafe. Through gaining cultural competence, we can find comfort in any home setting.
As team members gain greater ease with all sorts of situations, relationships with the people they serve blossom in trust and respect.
Mo wants people to feel comfortable getting help. Their background in diversity and equity grew when they started a GoFunME BIPOC camping gear campaign. Economic barriers stand in the way of minorities participating in activities that others consider open to all. Mo brings experience from the corporate world and spent time in theater arts. Also on the schedule is training to be a doula, a person who adds support and guidance through a pregnancy and birth. “I want to help my community in that way,” says Mo. “The death rate of Black babies and birthing parents is three times higher than the national average.”
“Diversity, equity and inclusion are really important,” stresses Mo. Too many people avoid seeking medical help or social services because of this. “People don’t want to be hurt more by strangers.”
SSP2S strives to understand the people it serves and continue to ask who is under-represented or underserved. The agency has support groups for moms, dads and siblings, has the ability to make autism diagnosis and offers many early learning intervention support programs. You can find more information about all the programs on the South Sound Parent to Parent website.
South Sound Parent to Parent
2108 Caton Way SW, Olympia