The focus for Eyes Wide Open is to assist young mothers to be resilient and strong women. To accept their role as a parent and to honour themselves as beautiful young women. Many of the topics covered within the programs are based on self-esteem, positive relationships, strengths building, parenting, child development and coping mechanisms. External specialist and professionals are also engaged in the fields of health, recreation, nutrition and wellbeing, to share their knowledge, wisdom and expertise.
In the past year we have been able to expand this project to now honour the young fathers in our community. A family night is held once a month and also a dad’s only night every fortnight. These are exciting times as the Eyes Wide Open project has been running for more than 15 years and we have always found it very difficult to engage with the dads, so we celebrate this new achievement and welcome all new young families.
The Eyes Wide Open Project is internationally acknowledged as a best practice community health provider. In 2007 a case study on Eyes Wide Open was released in ‘Community Health and Wellness a Socio-Ecological Approach’, author Professor Anne McMurray. This book is listed nationally as a required resource for nursing students throughout Australia. In 2013 Dr Gabrielle Brand released her research on Eyes Wide Open, titled “You Don’t Know Half the Story”, Deepening the Dialogue with Young Mothers. Gabrielle’s research has been presented at national youth health conferences, national child health nurses conferences and midwifery seminars. It is internationally journaled under community health.
The project offers support pathways for young pregnant women, through their pregnancy and then into parenthood. It also offers an alternative education program so young mothers can complete their schooling to a Year 12 level. Each program and activity offered are designed utilising information received during the initial home visit with the young women and their partners. It is a true community development model based on creating supports from the needs of those who need it.
Programs offered are
- Life after Birth (Parenting)
- Outreach mentoring
- Home visits
- Hospital visits
- Alternative education
- Family nights
- Young Dad’s Group
- Family support worker
The success of many of these programs has been due to having a fully operational crèche on site. This has enabled young mother’s the time to really engage in learning new skills, information and knowledge on parenting and child development.
Each new young woman is initially met with workers who do a home visit. This is the beginning of the relationship with the aim to break down anxieties and barriers they may be facing due to the stigma of being a young mother. Transport is offered to the programs, which shows how EWO values each individual and to lets them know they are not isolated. These two strategies alone are vital to the success of the program. Many young women feel very isolated and fearful of attending a group, especially if they are connected to some of the mandatory departments.
Programs are fun, engaging and use open style learning. Meals are provided as they assist in the promotion of healthy family values.
This project has an open door policy so all young mothers and fathers can return if they feel the need to do so.
The philosophy behind this project is mirrored within our organisation by all workers and volunteers. Meals are a time for gathering and sharing of stories. Those workers who have young children also bring them to work and they go into the Crèche while their parent works on site. When we have a multitude of programs on site, they all come together at meal times and share the space respectfully. It is lovely to see young men attending a program on site, come up to a young mother and offer to hold her child so she can sit and have lunch. That understanding shared between individuals is magic.
While I was approximately 10 weeks pregnant, I received a text from a friend letting me know there was a pregnancy group I could attend each week. My family and I thought this would be a great idea for knowledge and support. I was struggling, at the time, with the challenges of having a mental illness while coming to terms with becoming a 1st time mum and all the horrible symptoms of early pregnancy. While attending this group each week my husband, mother and I noticed positive changes in my communication and attitude towards life & my pregnancy. The social interaction, on-going support and education I gain from being apart of the Eyes Wide Open programs each semester are invaluable. I was able to feel more confident, healthy & positive during my pregnancy. I was able to educate and connect more with my husband during this process and now feel very calm and prepared as a new mum. I will forever be grateful for being a part of the Eyes Wide Open Family
Hi My Name is Emma, I grew up in a rather big family so there was no questions that I was going to have children of my own! I moved too Mandurah with my mum and lived there for a while…leaving all my friends behind. Soon met my partner and we got together…5 months into our relationship at age 20 and 23, I found out we were having a baby…wasn’t planned but wasn’t prevented, yes we were scared as hell and nervous but who isn’t?! We were also really excited for the future…30+ weeks my Obstetrics mentioned “Eyes Wide Open Program”. At first I didn’t want to go but I gained the courage and when bubs was 2 weeks old I decided to go. I was scared being so young but I couldn’t think of a better support group. I have learnt and gained so much and the staff are wonderful! Highly recommend this program too anyone
Well, it all started when I dropped out if mainstream school at 16 with 2 little boys that called me mummy…The education department linked me with Eyes Wide Open to finish my schooling and it was the best decision I ever made for myself and my family I got to take my kids to peel youth services with me to complete my schooling also one of the ladies in the office helped me follow my dreams to do a course that I always wanted to do and helped me get enrolled supported me through the whole thing and I completed my cert 3 and my schooling at the same time if it wasn’t for programs like this I don’t think I would b were I am today. . . .
Also the mothers group and the crèche workers are amazing!! And offer so much support when I didn’t have it outside of the program always there if I needed to talk and they would listen (as long as they weren’t busy of course ). . . The mothers group help me become more comfortable in myself made me believe in myself wen I never could before and made me who I am, I had a lot of fun times here memories I’ll never forget….. I am very thankful for all the times I got to spend here either if it was doing school work or mothers group. . . At first I was this shy girl wanting to meet new people but was too scared and shy to do so but I got made feel comfortable and accepted from the first day I arrived. . . . I have made friendships that will last a life time. . . Thank you to all those that helped me in the right direction and support me through a lot. . Again I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for you guys
From Jess P.
Eyes Wide Open is the best place/environment ever invented!! I would be so lost and confused in life without it. All the staff at Eyes Wide Open are all so welcoming, friendly and always offer to help with anything and give the best advice ever.
I first attended EWO when I fell pregnant at the age of 17. They have taught & supported me through all kinds of things about being a parent. Areas from bathing, soothing, sleeping, breastfeeding, behaviour, eating and if I had any questions on random things.
EWO has helped and supported Kaiden (my son) and I right from the beginning and still continue to do so. I am now a Peer Educator with the EWO program and am able to help other new young Mums coming through the program the way I was helped.