Virtual babies teach Royal Wootton Bassett teenagers the basics of parenting (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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Virtual babies teach Royal Wootton Bassett teenagers the basics of parenting
9:47am Monday 21st May 2012 in Royal Wootton Bassett
Five virtual babies, which are programmed to cry and behave realistically, have visited Royal Wootton Bassett.
They were used in school projects for teenage girls in Salisbury Diocese and bawl loudly when neglected, crying when needing a feed, nappy changed or other attention.
Mothers’ Union project officer Joanne Triffitt and Wiltshire Archdeaconry MU chairman Jocelyn Short took them to a meeting organised by the local branch at Church Croft.
Those present included Deputy Mayor Linda Frost, Wiltshire councillor Allison Bucknell, Royal Wootton Bassett Academy student managers Linda Woodruffe and Jane Oade, and the Rev Jonathan Triffitt, a Devizes vicar with a background in childcare.
The project teaches students to care for the virtual baby, at home, for a weekend.
The girls are invited to offer their comments afterwards, and some of these were quoted.
One girl wrote: “Be prepared for sleepless nights and stressful days.” Another said: “I learned what hard work it really is!”
The project has also had an impact on students’ families, and after coping with disturbed nights, one parent remarked: “I am not ready to be a grandparent yet.”
Before taking a virtual baby home for a weekend, students are given a talk about parenting, and the choices they face in modern society, the role of stable relationships and the demands of work and home.
Mrs Triffitt said: “The Mothers’ Union is all about family life and supporting families. Not everybody gets married and it’s not for us to judge, but to help students to get the best out of their experience through this project.”
She said one student who had previously said she would like to become a mother at 17, had changed her mind after taking part in the project, and said she did not want to have a baby for at least another five years.
The computer-programmed virtual babies, which cost about £800 each, are financed by the Salisbury Diocesan Mothers’ Union, through fundraising and voluntary donations.