There’s been a hive of activity at HopeStreet’s Community Centre in Windale as a warehouse space was recently transformed into a warm and welcoming hub for mums with babies and children under five in a very special community initiative.

Delivered in partnership with Eastlakes Youth Centre, Music + Moves brings together a select and intimate group of women and their little ones to create connection through music, support and education in a loving and safe environment.

“As a team we feel like it’s an absolute privilege that we have been approached by Eastlake Youth Centre, and asked to support these young mums in our community,” said Joy, HopeStreet Chaplain who makes up part of the passionate team driving the initiative.

“Music + Moves is about encouraging attachment; it’s about enjoyment with your baby, your toddler, or your preschooler. It’s about music, rhythm, beat, and maths and so much more,” said Joy. “It’s about the emotional understanding that children and babies learn from faces; the surprise, happiness, all the beautiful expressive things.”

“We are seeing more and more young mums coming to BaptistCare HopeStreet looking for support with experiences of domestic and family violence or at risk of homelessness, looking for support to get work or training, chaplaincy support, and food support. There’s such demand for a program like this.”

Dianne Southward joins Joy as the Music + Moves program facilitator for an initial 12 months as she nurtures the role for a key participant to step into. A retired early childhood educator with a Masters in Music Technology, and music teacher for the majority of her career, Dianne has witnessed firsthand how music is a powerful tool for parents and children.

“It’s universal - a language that can be understood anywhere, that everybody can be involved with. Music is great for teaching rhythm, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, auditory and visual discrimination,” said Dianne.

“Music + Moves will build a repertoire and give mums tools they can use at home, simple songs and ways to connect and relate to their children.”

“My passion is in encouraging the mums and the babies - the intrinsic value in each of them - encouraging and equipping them with skills, then empowering them by saying, ‘You can take this home, it will work, it will benefit the child, and it will benefit you’,” said Dianne. 

“Our aim is to build the confidence of the women in their selves and within the group, to feel safe, then build their confidence with their children. A lot of mums aren’t confident in their mothering so this gives opportunity for confirmation and encouragement,” said Dianne.

Joy agrees that it will be lovely to see mums grow more confident by being affirmed for what they’re already doing naturally. “It’s good for them to understand some of the research and education behind why they do what they do with their babies.”

“We’re hoping we’ll get a core group of mums who will love the program and want to be a bigger part of it. Particularly in the music side of things, Di would love to start training and encouraging someone beside her.”

Eastlake Youth Centre agrees it will be great to see the young women grow into leadership roles. “We love that Music + Moves will enable these young women to take leadership roles in the program,” said Jenny from Eastlake Youth Centre.

“We’re excited to be partnering with BaptistCare HopeStreet to fulfill the request by several young people to create a group for mums under 30 years where they can feel safe, not threatened or judged.”

“We’re also excited by the future possibilities we will share as we join these wonderful young mums on their journey of parenthood and once again play a positive part in their lives,” said Jenny.

At the core of the program is the goal of creating a safe and beautiful space for the mums, and this goal has already been achieved.

“We want the mums to feel that this space is beautiful and welcoming, their own space, where they feel at home. We’ve designed and decorated, and bought a nice coffee machine. I want them to have a beautiful morning tea and feel loved and looked after,” said Joy.