Photo: Elijah Lane , 11, is a graduate of the virtual American Red Cross Babysitting Certification course. He often looks after his younger brother, Emari. Photo by Jazmyne Lane.
Eleven-year-old Elijah Lane wants to be a pediatrician when he grows up. And sometimes, when his mother, Jazmyne, goes to work or runs to the store, he looks after his younger brother, Emari.
“Emari wants to be just like Elijah,” says Jazmyne of Homewood. “Elijah’s teaching him everything he learns.“
Since Emari has autism, Jazmyne was especially cautious about taking her boys anywhere during the pandemic. Her mind is more at ease now that Elijah is a certified babysitter, after completing a virtual American Red Cross Babysitting Certification course.
The free course was offered by the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) Wellness Pavilion at the Community Engagement Center (CEC) in Homewood in partnership with the Homewood Children’s Village. The 4-week course was held virtually over Zoom to provide kids ages 11 to 15 with the skills to safely care for little ones.
“The course was great because Elijah is learning more about how to help out while making money and learning more responsibility,” Jazmyne says. “It’ll be more comforting for me. Now he knows the do’s and the don’ts.”
Ejilah’s favorite part was learning new things about caring for babies. “Now, I’m going to look around the house for hazards like cabinets, sockets and bleach,” he says. “Since I want to be a pediatrician, this is giving me background on how to treat the new generation of children. It helps a lot.”
This was the first time that a certification course of this kind has been offered to kids in Homewood, says Channing Moreland, director of the SHRS Wellness Pavilion.
“There’s data that shows that eight in 10 parents would pay more for children who are trained and certified to babysit,” Moreland says. “There’s a huge population of young people in Homewood. There are children watching children—whether it be neighbors, siblings or cousins. We thought this would be a good addition to the community.”
Neighborhood kids have limited opportunities to work closer to home, says Daren Ellerbee, director of the CEC in Homewood.
“Many children travel to outside communities for employment opportunities,” she said. “As part of the Cradle to Career Collective Impact group in Homewood, providers indicated a community-wide need for childcare.”
Having recalled these conversations, connecting the Homewood Children’s Village to Dr. Moreland and the SHRS Wellness Pavilion to collaborate on virtual youth babysitting certification classes, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, made sense.
“The CEC is a great resource for connecting the community to different initiatives at Pitt. It was a seamless process,” says Walter Lewis, director of the Homewood Children’s Village. “We hope that as a part of planting the seed for a future career path that some of our children also catch the entrepreneurial spirit.”
To help kids consider future careers in childcare and entrepreneurship, each participant received a year-long membership to the Homewood-Brushton Business Association, along with a stipend from the Homewood Children’s Village.
”With this certification, they can start a business,” Lewis says. “They can put their fliers together. They can do it on their phones. They can earn some money babysitting in their community.
”The course covered topics including caring for infants and children, first aid, child behavior, age-appropriate activities, emergency situations, safety, bottle feeding and how-to’s for growing a babysitting business.
A lot of the students in the class had been babysitting their siblings for years, just like Elijah—but now, they have a better handle on first aid and emergency situations.
Pittwire is a news service of the University of Pittsburgh Office of Communications.