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Universal Parenting Place creating change by helping parents

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Giving parents a helping hand.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland has said numerous times the city can't solve its violent crime problems alone, and on Monday he met with staff and parents at the Universal Parenting Place at Knowledge Quest, a free resource for parents in the city that is privately funded.

Parents WREG talked to believe the parenting place, known as UPP, can create change.

"What I realize is that no matter your background, your education level, your income level, that a lot of us parents experience the same problems."

On Monday, mom Kashana London, with 2-year-old son Jameson on her lap, sat next to Strickland. She told him about her family and her experiences as a mother.

Jameson isn't London's only child. She also has a 6-year-old, 9-year-old and a 13-year-old daughter. Each child is different. Each relationship with each child is different.

"He pays more attention to me if I'm whispering to him or something 'cause he wants to know what I'm saying instead of me yelling from the room," she said.

These communication tactics are some of the things London has learned since she started coming to the Universal Parenting Place at Knowledge Quest in South Memphis, across from LeMoyne Owen College. The parenting place also offers counseling, even meditation sessions.

"We aim to break the stigma, we want it to be a judgment-free zone where parents can receive this counseling to help navigate through challenging experiences," said Kiersten Hawes, a family therapist at UPP.

"Let's take away the clipboards, white lab coats, and let's just admit parenting is hard work and support families along the journey," said executive director Marlon Foster.

Anywhere between 30 and 50 parents visit every month at the South Memphis location, but the plan is to open two more similar parenting places. The goal is to help parents fight problems at home before they enter our community.

"The more that we can put it into the neighborhood like our community center the more convenient it is and more people will use it," Strickland said.

The parenting places recently received national recognition for their unique work in Memphis.

They also have a location at Baptist Memorial Hospital for women and next year will be opening a site at Klondike Elementary and Christ Community Health Services in Raleigh.