milies gather for a child-parent play group at Bronco Youth Center, where both parent and child can socialize with others. Hosted by the New Parent Support Program, Explore Learning and Play allows children to learn social skills by meeting other children and the parents find support from other parents.

Kirstie Beaudette and her 3-year-old son Bryden, have attended the child-parent play group every Wednesday for the last two years.

“I’d say just come and give it a shot,” Beaudette said about the child-parent play group. “To come out and experience it, especially if they have toddlers or babies.”

Beaudette said separation is the hardest challenge for her and her family, but she’s made friends through support groups on Fort Hood. Beaudette believes the child-parent play group also provides parents an opportunity to socialize. She began attending the child-parent play group after meeting friends through the breastfeeding support group at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.

“It’s just a nice opportunity to get them (kids) to socialize with other kids and there’s learning activities, so it’s just really good socialization from them,” Beaudette said.

Approximately 30 parents and children attend the child-parent play group every Wednesday.

Antonia Cabezuela and her 2-year-old daughter Mia, were among the many parents and children socializing Wednesday morning.

“It’s just a great resource,” Cabezuela said about the child-parent play group. “It’s just a safe place for kids to run around and play. They socialize. They learn social skills that they are going to have to learn for school and later on in life.”

As a former officer in the U.S. Army, Cabezuela understands the challenges of trying to balance family and service obligations.

“You move from place to place — you make friends and sometimes it takes a while,” she said. “Programs like this are great, because you meet new people.”

Cabezuela, now a mother, said everything changed when she and her husband had their daughter.

“When she was born, she looked like a little girl version of him and I was like ‘Are you serious? I love you honey, but this is not fair,’” Cabezuela laughed. “You just want to protect them from everything.”

She said although her 2-year-old daughter was born premature, the New Parent Support Program was there to assist her. The best part for new parents is the service is offered free of charge.

“New Parents Support, they send people to your house once a week and help with just about whatever you need,” Cabezuela said. “And they have this once a week and it’s free — it’s free. Why not do this?”

Explore Learning and Play meets at the Bronco Youth Center every Wednesday from 9:30-11 a.m.

For more information about the New Parents Support Group, visit www.crdamc.amedd.army.mil or call 254-287-2286.