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From 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday in the Shepherd Union Building, the Weber State University Women’s Center hosted Mommas on the Move, a conference tailored to single mothers.
“We put this together as a single mothers’ activity, but we have invited any mothers to come,” said Natalie Laramie, a mentor for single mothers. “We really want a positive aspect to the whole thing. Motherhood is motherhood, whether you are married or not. We’re not going to focus on the being-single part; we want to keep it upbeat.”
The conference focused on putting a positive spin on being a single parent and explaining that there are many things single mothers can do with their children that would not be possible with a spouse.
This is the second annual conference for single parents held at WSU. The cost for WSU students was $15, $20 for non-students. WSU single mothers as well as single mothers throughout the community were encouraged to attend.
“I think it is beneficial, because it is empowerment and that’s what you need,” said Stacy Rodriguez, conference attendee. “I can honestly say that I am in a bit of a down side in my life right now, and that is why I am here, to remember I am not alone. Everything you’re seeking in life comes to you if you’ve always got your eyes open.”
The WSU Women’s Center offers assistance to single mothers and works to put on unique events each semester. Instead of a conference, last semester, the Women’s Center hosted a single mothers’ group that met once a week for an hour.
“I think it provides a really good place for single moms to get together and create their network,” said Monica Williams, part of the planning committee for the event. ”A lot of times, single moms feel really isolated. The biggest thing, I think, is to get them talking to each other and recognize other people on campus and learn about the resources.”
Attendees had a light breakfast while listening to keynote speaker Jo Packham, and after two breakout sessions they were able to sit together for lunch and get to know each other.
“To be really confident in the university, you have to knock on a lot of doors and have conversations with a lot of people,” said Dorothy Hill, women’s advocate and program specialist, in her breakout session, 10 Tips for Getting a College Education. “The more conversations you have about your experience here at Weber, the more confident you are in having the conversations with the administrators and the faculty at the university.”
The first breakout session in the morning consisted of Hill’s presentation and focused on the positives for a life of happiness and creativity, and translating mothering skills into marketable skills.
“I think it is a great opportunity for women from different backgrounds to get together to hear what us speakers have to say, but also to learn from each other,” said speaker Wendy Fox-Kirk. “I think also the actual sessions, the hints and tips, help prepare, to reduce any fear they have, especially going to college. We can all do it.”
The breakout sessions offered later in the day were I Am What I Am: Motherhood and Self-Identity; Fun Free Activities and Creative Crafts on a Budget; Creating a Life Vision: Discover the Power of What You See and What You Say; Finding ‘Me Time’ in the Quiet Places of the Mind, and Cooking Nutritious and Quick Meals on a Budget.
“I had a free Saturday, and I always want extra information and education on being a better parent and student,” said Kimberly Clark, a conference attendee. “I think, just being around other people in my position, it’s really helpful.”