Helping Children Thrive with Grandmas2Go
Research has shown that a child’s brain grows more from pregnancy to preschool than at any other time in life, and that by age four, the foundation is set for all future physical, emotional and mental health. It was for that reason that Grandmas2Go-Family Coaches (G2G) was formed in Southern Oregon in 2015 by Linda A. Otto.
“Childhood trauma is linked to negative life outcomes, and for the best success, we must intervene early in a child’s life,” said Linda, who moved to the Rogue Valley in 1996 with her husband Jeff Blum. “Unfortunately, service agencies cannot meet the demand for assistance and are able to reach only the highest need cases. The result is that too many families who need and want help are not getting it.”
Grandmas2Go matches “trained and trusted women of wisdom and experience” with struggling and at-risk families—to mentor, nurture and support parents and their babies during the critical years of their children’s brain growth, from pregnancy to preschool.
“By using the skills and talents that women have acquired over their lifetimes, we are a strong force for change,” Linda said. “G2G is truly a multi-generational program that positively impacts the lives of infants, parents and the senior volunteers.”
The program starts with a training program that educates the volunteer on everything from infant/toddler brain growth, nurturing care for new mothers, compassionate listening, self-care, stress reduction, positive parenting skills, and current infant-care best practices.
Having a mentor while going through child-rearing can be extremely beneficial.
“Some of the impacts on families include lowered stress levels in parents and children,” Linda said. “The mother experiences decreased anxiety and depression, plus increased confidence in parenting. It also helps build strong family bonds and brings health, harmony and stability to the family. The non-judgmental support and calm reassurance encourages parents to interact with their babies.”
Grandmas2Go was named one of the top five new, innovative, intergenerational programs in the country by the 2017 “Encore Prize” competition.
Executive Director Joy Marshall is proud of the program’s successes. “Our home visiting program is available free to any family that needs help,” Joy said. “We believe that every baby needs a grandma, and every family needs support. We have a continuing education program for our volunteers, along with a bi-monthly ‘Grandma Gathering’ where volunteers share their successes and challenges and support each other in helping families to thrive.”
For more information about the program and volunteer opportunities, call 541-770-3476 or go to Grandmas2Go.org. You can also see them on Facebook.