Inspired. That’s how I felt when I left Gompers Elementary-Middle School. As a Sweet Dreamzzz, Inc. staff member, I had the opportunity to attend our Parent Sleep Education Workshop at the school. While I knew I would leave believing we made a difference, I had no idea I’d leave inspired by this group of parents, strangers to me, but very loving mothers and fathers to their children.
Walking into the parent room at Gompers, I expected a crowd of parents, listening intently to what our Director of Sleep Programs, Ann Raftery, had to say, but I assumed they would be too timid to ask questions or share personal stories and get involved in the presentation, similar to my classmates in high school and college. However, what I witnessed was very different, captivating my attention and inspiring me further with every moment that passed.
The parents were very involved throughout the presentation sharing their own personal sleep stories about sleep apnea and CPAP machines and a story about how getting tonsils and adenoids out as a child made all the difference in sleeping well.
Sweet Dreamzzz™ has been to Gompers before and Gompers Parent Group Leader, Harold Harris, knows there is a need to continue to bring the organization back.
“I saw Sweet Dreamzzz at the tail end of a workshop they were doing with a Kindergarten group at Gompers four years ago,” Harris said. “I listened as they presented, and learned the truth about sleep habits and how not getting enough sleep is damaging to our lives and the lives of our children as well. I began to think more seriously about my family and other families and that’s why I keep bringing them back every year.”
Each year, both new parents and returning parents attend the program. I saw firsthand that there is a positive impact with the Sweet Dreamzzz Parent Sleep Education Workshop. The information from past presentations stuck with this group and they were happy to share what they remembered and how they implemented it in their homes.
Returning parents in this group remembered that their elementary-aged students need at least 10 hours of sleep per night- one of the biggest keys to cultivating focus in school and academic success. One parent mentioned that ever since she attended last year’s Sweet Dreamzzz program, she has been using a fan for white noise like Ann suggested and it’s made a huge difference in the quality of sleep for her children.
Gompers parent, Dewanda, shared her family’s bedtime routine with the group. She has four children and, since attending a previous Sweet Dreamzzz program, she makes sure that they stick to their routine every night. She says she gets dinner cooked early so that the kids can start their homework before it’s too late in the evening. Once their school work is done, Dewanda allows her children a bit of free time before giving them a warm bath to help calm and settle their minds for bedtime. She says she emphasizes bedtime at 8 o’clock, no exceptions, and does not allow technology in the bedroom.
These parents get it and it’s a truly beautiful sight to see.
According to Harris, sleep education has a profound positive impact on these Gompers parents.
“There is a joy I see come to their faces at the workshops. They ask questions, engage in conversation and gain knowledge. That’s when I see the Gompers family get stronger,” Harris said. “I watch them at other times and see how they interact with their children- they volunteer more at school and go on field trips. It shows in their actions not just words.”
Parent Rickie Holt explained what he learned at the program and how it will make an impact in his home.
“I need to keep up with the bedtime program and what I’ve learned today even on the weekends,” Holt said. “I’m home a lot more now and more in tune with the children and I see a lot of things I didn’t see before, like sleep issues. Sweet Dreamzzz does make a difference. I will put what I’ve learned into play at home and I know it will truly help!”
These parents know sleep is important. I see a healthy trend in the works. I envision that from this trend we will see students with better focus, more positive attitudes and a strengthened ability to work harder. I envision a world of academic success for these children along with a bright future. It’s a simple solution, it’s a good night’s sleep and I know it will make a difference.
And what I saw today made a difference in my life. It gave me hope. Hope for the children of Detroit. I saw involved parents with a desire to learn the best way to take care of their babies. I saw a group of parents who want their children to succeed academically and make their way to bright future and a better life. And in this simple act of caring, I found inspiration. Those of us on the outside looking in slip into the habit of viewing the city based on what we see on the news or hear in stereotypes. But I was blessed with the opportunity to view the city from the inside and now, I am inspired.
For more information about Sweet Dreamzzz, Inc., call 248-478-3242.
Photos by: Harold Harris