BUCKHANNON – Are you or is someone you know a full-time or part-time caretaker for your (or their) grandchildren?
If so, mark your calendar because next week, a localized statewide program that’s designed to connect grandparents to vital information and community resources – and to one another – begins next week in Upshur County.
The Upshur County Healthy Grandfamilies 2021 Fall Session will kick off this coming Tuesday, Oct. 12, this time on a virtual, or online, platform due to concerns about the ongoing pandemic. The 10-week virtual session will take place every Tuesday from 6-7 p.m. Oct. 12 through Dec. 14 with a break during the week of Thanksgiving. Anyone on or off Facebook may participate in the educational forums, which feature speakers in a variety of fields of expertise.
So, what is the Healthy Grandfamilies program anyway?
Created by the West Virginia State University Department of Social Work and WVSU Extension Service, Healthy Grandfamilies is a free initiative that supplies resources and information to guide grandparents as they raise their grandchildren, and Upshur County Healthy Grandfamilies is the local branch of that initiative.
Locally, this fall’s virtual session is spearheaded by the Upshur County Senior Center in conjunction with the Upshur County Family Resource Network. It will focus on a variety of topics relevant to ‘grandparenting,’ including technology and cellphones; nutrition; physical and mental well-being; overall health and self-care; communication strategies; legal issues; and more.
Sessions will discuss:
- Parenting in the 21st Century
- Family relationships: A new dynamic
- Communication: When no one talks and everyone texts
- Technology and social media: The dangers, pitfalls and plusses
- Nutrition: Balancing diets when everyone is “on the go”
- Navigating the legal system and documents: Getting past all the legal issues
- Self-care and health literacy: How to take care of your own health
- Navigating the school system
- Family response to addiction: Coping with a child struggling with substance abuse
Lori Ulderich Harvey, executive director of the Upshur County Family Resource Network, said the program not only supplies invaluable information, but also gives grandparents a chance to interact with other grandparents who are also raising their grandchildren full time or part time.
“Each week, we have a different presenter, someone who is an expert on the topic we’re discussing,” Harvey said. “The sessions discuss parenting in the 21st century, navigating the school system, mental health, self-care and family relationships and more. It’s a chance for us to connect [grandparents] to resources they might need and also gives them a chance to interact with other grandparents, so it can function like a support system.”
Establishing a support system is especially important now, Harvey added.
“One of the biggest pieces is that you are talking with people in the same situation as you are in, and right now during COVID we’re so separated, so it’s a chance for people to come together and talk,” she said. “It’s very helpful from a person-to-person standpoint. There’s resources you may not know you can access, and every session has an expert and if you have questions, we can get the answers for you.”
Following the fall session, participants will have access to three months of free services, including assistance locating community resources, confidential assistance in meeting your family’s unique needs, and advocacy services as needed, according to a program flyer. They’ll also receive a $50 gift card to a local grocery store upon completing the program.
Need help accessing the internet via Wi-Fi (wireless internet technology)? The Upshur County Public Library and Stockert Youth & Community Center can provide technological assistance. Anyone who has questions or wants to sign up should contact Sarah Campbell, executive director of the Senior Center, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-472-0528 or Harvey at email@example.com or 304-473-1051
Participants in Healthy Grandfamilies programs who receive both COVID-19 vaccinations are eligible for an $150 gift card for school supplies, and more information can be accessed here.