I am Daniela Drandić of Roda, Parents in Action. Roda has been involved in adult education for the past eighteen years, since its very foundation. Parents and families from various backgrounds are taught through different channels. Over the past three years this has intensified as we have been developing a comprehensive adult education course for childbirth educators, through an Erasmus+ project spanning three countries. My team of volunteers and I are most interested in working on providing quality information to expectant families and those with young children.
EPALE came to our attention when we were participating in an Erasmus+ programme. Last year, Roda’s activities with partner organisations Aperio (Czech Republic) and Indo Anai (Slovenia) were featured in two EPALE blog posts – we developed innovative educational tools for pregnant families, including a mobile app called “Expecting”, training for childbirth educators and a book for expectant families available as an e- and audio book. EPALE has helped us to disseminate our innovative tools further.
The outbreak of COVID-19 in Croatia has left pregnant women facing many unknowns – from fears of catching the virus, to the cancellation of childbirth education courses at healthcare centres and the closure of maternity units for birth companions. The earthquake in Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, on 22 March made matters worse.
At Roda, we had already been discussing how to create an online course for pregnant women, so COVID-19 made us only work harder to get the course out even sooner. We contacted an e-learning specialist to teach our core team the basic principles of designing e-courses, created a team of volunteers who re-worked some of the materials from the Eramsus+ project we had just completed, developed some new interactive content and launched our first e-course for expectant families at the end of March. Having team members from across Croatia meant that we could stick to our timelines despite the problems in Zagreb, but at the same time provide support for all the women who were close to their due dates.
The response has been amazing.
Three thousand expectant families have participated in three courses that we have run over the past eight weeks – almost 10% of all families that will have a baby in Croatia this year!
The vast majority said that they would not have taken a childbirth preparation course had it not been for our e-course, and 98% said they would recommend it to their friends.
Learning online is vastly different from learning in a workshop environment, but it has been crucial for supporting expectant families and families with young children through the COVID-19 and earthquake crises. Maintaining contact with our participants through a support group on social media and getting their feedback has been valuable for our volunteer-members, because of the connections we have been able to make with the participants and the satisfaction of being able to do something to make a terrible situation better. The feedback from our participants has been so positive that we will likely continue with this type of e-course after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. It has transformed prenatal and childbirth education, making it available to women on islands and remote areas of the country, big and small cities, and to groups of parents who would never otherwise have taken a prenatal education course.
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