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Family Time

Family TimeFamily Time: Connections Count was a six-year PACT campaign that provided a monthly reminder of the importance of connecting with your family and sharing regular meals. Family Time’s messaging is continuing as PACT moves forward with other campaigns.

Family Time focused around on a monthly designated “No Homework Night” for elementary grades K-5 so that families could spend time together around the table. Before each Family Time night,  banners and signs were prominently displayed in Pelham to remind the community of this initiative and the value of spending regular time together as a family.

In the past, students have also been given Family Time bookmarks to bring the message home. (See picture  at right.)

Family Time also featured Pelham Take Out, a way to make nights easier and to help local restaurants. Feel too rushed to prepare dinner on your own? Make it easy and order in, by clicking on the Pelham Take Out link here.

Research shows that when families share regular meals together, kids are less likely to smoke, drink or use illegal drugs. Additionally, children have “better grades, healthier eating habits, closer relationships to parents and siblings, ability to resist negative peer pressure, resilience in the face of life’s problems — all these are outcomes of simply sharing dinner on a regular basis,” according to The Power of Family Meals. (Another great resource for family meal time is The Family Dinner Project.)

The schedules of today’s families are busy — filled with practices, activities and late work schedules –making a nightly family dinner a challenge, but finding simple ways to connect can be just as effective.

“Our goal with Family Time was for families to develop a habit of spending regular time together with family meals, whether breakfast, dinner or dessert, being a component of that time,” said Virginia Hartmere, PACT Coalition Director. “Both quality and quantity count, so finding time that works with your family’s schedule is important.”

Engaged parents do make a difference and influence the decisions their children make. According to CASA Columbia (Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University), “as children age, it is important to build trust with them and keep the lines of communication open so that if at any point they begin to feel increased pressure to experiment with smoking, drinking and using drugs they can feel comfortable talking to you about it. Every day activities like having family dinner together, helping your children with their homework or attending their after school activities have a lasting effect on your kids.”

Started in Pelham in 2009, Family Time was originally inspired by CASA’s annual Family Day event, a national movement to celebrate parental engagement as an effective tool to help keep America’s kids substance free.