On Sept. 8, families around the country celebrated National Grandparents Day — a day to honor the special role these men and women play in children’s lives. It’s a role that in some families goes beyond supporter and into caregiver, many times without the support that’s needed.
To help address these gaps, UnitedHealthcare and Sesame Workshop — the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street® — created the Growing Every Day, Every Way program. The initiative helps families understand children’s developmental milestones while emphasizing the importance of establishing lifelong healthy habits, like making nutritious food choices and incorporating physical activity on a daily basis.
In an effort to celebrate the special role grandparents play in a child’s upbringing, while providing a space for grandparent caregivers to access these resources, Grandparents Day eventstook place in five cities across the country (Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Charlotte, North Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix; and Pittsburgh) with some very special guests.
Sesame Street® walkaround characters like Elmo and Cookie Monster mingled with hundreds of children and their families, creating the perfect backdrop for a day of fun, while learning about wellness, exercise, disease prevention and more.
Ear-to-ear smiles could be seen on children and their grandparents, as they danced along with stage performers and posed with the beloved characters.
“Grandparents are a critical part of the circle of care, because they provide that sense of continued support, connection and communication with their grandchildren,” said Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president for U.S. Social Impact at Sesame Workshop. “They care for children, especially young children, when their parents are working or have other roles that they must do. We’re thrilled to help grandparents access the tools they need to help their grandchildren grow smarter, stronger and kinder.”
The Grandparents Day events included resources to help grandparents understand and serve the grandchildren they’re helping to raise, plus government benefits and social services available to them as a grandparent caregiver.
Educational materials from the Growing Every Day, Every Way program, which were made available at the various events in both English and Spanish, include:
- Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget™: Designed to help support families who are coping with uncertain or limited access to affordable and nutritious food.
- We Have the Moves™: Encourages families to participate in regular physical activity to help children build strong bones and muscles, improve their social and emotional skills, while supporting their ability to learn new concepts.
- Ages and Stages: Provides parents with resources to help them keep infants, toddlers and preschoolers healthy by building an understanding of their child’s physical and cognitive developmental milestones.
Jeanette said crucial community-based outreach, especially for an underserved population like grandparent caregivers, helps drive Sesame Workshop’s efforts to make sure the Growing Every Day, Every Way program reaches the right audience. A partnership with organizations, like UnitedHealthcare, help bring these initiatives to life.
“(We’re working to) determine where there are gaps in resources, knowledge and information for children, families and what we often call the ‘circle of care,’” she said. “(These partnerships) influence young children's behavior and knowledge. We really strive to create resources that are easy to use in everyday moments.”