United Way Partners With Parkview Health & PNC For 'Let's Talk' Initiative

By Emma Koch - 21Alive

United Way Partners With Parkview Health & PNC For 'Let's Talk' Initiative

December 10, 2013 Updated Dec 10, 2013 at 3:42 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) -- United Way of Allen County announced Tuesday the launch of a new education initiative in partnership with Parkview Health and PNC Bank. The “Let’s Talk” initiative provides resources and guidance to parents, which helps them better connect with their children.

Research shows that foundations of lifelong health are built in early childhood. By simply talking with or reading to their children, parents can improve their child’s brain development, school readiness and overall learning capacity. Studies indicate achievement gaps can begin as early as age 9 months.

“Young children are born learning; they drink up all of the attention, love and knowledge that you give them,” said Jeanne Zehr, director of community impact, United Way of Allen County. “Talking to your baby can help them grow an amazing mind.”

“By implementing the Let’s Talk initiative in Allen County, we will strive to improve brain development and outcomes in young children,” said Patti Brahe, senior vice president, women’s and children’s services, Parkview Health. “Not only do we want to give as many children as possible the chance for success as they grow, but we want to give parents the support they need as they raise their children.”

The program will be implemented at Parkview Family Birthing Centers in Allen County. New parents will receive a package of educational materials including a board book and more. The items will be assembled by volunteers from Lamplight Communities. The materials will cover resources in the community for infants and toddlers as well as suggestions for parents on how they can interact with their children to help them learn and grow.

Suggestions for parents include:
•    Singing to your baby while you do laundry or cook. Even at an early age, babies respond to and imitate the sounds you make.
•    Talking to your baby during bath time by describing the colors and shapes of the bath toys.
•    Speaking in the language you know best. Babies learn from the variety and number of words and sounds that they hear.

Additional opportunities will be made available to parents beginning when their child is three months old. Those items will include another board book, a list of physical and developmental milestones and more to be mailed to participating parents. Parents can also sign up for weekly text message tips by texting Talk2Baby to 99000. For more information on the Let’s Talk initiative, visit www.unitedwayallencounty.org or www.parkview.com/letstalk.

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