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September 9, 2009 > Grandparents Day, celebrating the seniors in your life

Grandparents Day, celebrating the seniors in your life

By Ritu Jha
Photos By Courtesy of First5 Santa Clara County

Grandparents Day may not be as popular as Father's Day and Mother's Day but some local organizations are trying to help residents celebrate.

National Grandparents Day originated with Marian McQuade, a West Virginia housewife. She hoped to persuade grandchildren to tap into the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide.

In 1978, National Grandparents Day was proclaimed, to be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day.

To make this day popular among grandchildren, local area organizations and some senior centers will be celebrating Grandparents Day which occurs on Sunday, September 13 this year.

"We have designed a 'Grandparents Handbook' that will be given out to them," said Daniel Tran, Design Manager at First 5 Santa Clara County.

The book contains information and different tips about how to pass on traditions to grandchildren. It also teaches grandparents ways to participate in grandchildren's activities and bond with them.

First 5 Santa Clara is a public agency and receives funding from revenues generated from the Tobacco Tax.

"In Santa Clara County, we get $20 million a year," says Tran. With those funds, the agency develops preschool programs, assists with health insurance for low income families and creates parenting workshops.

Tran adds that many grandparents have to take care of their grandchildren. The center runs a monthly community event where they invite grandparents and offers a parenting workshop called, "Grandparents Raising Grandchildren."

They are the caregivers and can learn about healthy ways to feed their children, behaviors, and different ways of interacting with them," says Tran.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau data from 2007, Santa Clara County households have 582,172 grandparents. There are 51,086 grandparents living with their grandchildren under 18 years of age. There are 70 million grandparents in the United States.

In celebration of National Grandparents Day, a Fremont based non-profit, LIFE ElderCare, will be showing three award-winning independent films that celebrate the lives, loves, creativity and spirit of older adults.

"Earlier we put out newsletters on Grandparents Day, but we decided to do something special this year," says Rachael Vander Martin, Communications Specialist at LIFE ElderCare.

The three movies are titled "Tulip", "My Mother Dreams, the Satan Disciples in New York" and "Grow Old Along With Me".

Vander Martin says all three movies are special because they show the experiences of the older adult going through the life transition of aging.

"What we wanted to show is how grandparents are important." Vander Martin states, "We have 70 seats available. People should visit the website and reserve their seat."

The movies will run between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the historic Niles Bankers Building in Fremont and are free of charge.

"If it turns out well, we would like do it every year," says Vander Martin. She added after the movies people will be given an opportunity to pay tribute to grandparents or a respected elder in their lives.

The event is being generously co-sponsored by Fremont Bank.

Meanwhile, General Electric (GE) is asking grandparents and grandchildren to celebrate Grandparents Day by saving energy and doing intergenerational activities together.

Grandparents and grandchildren can share books, go for walks and encourage their social skills by being with family and learning new things.

Katie Bush, spokeswoman for GE, said, "We suggest that grandparents and grandchildren go through their house and pick out the five most used light bulbs to take to the store and make a change by buying compact fluorescent bulbs. "It's an intergenerational activity they can do together while learning how to save energy and money," says Bush.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, intergenerational activities can prevent unnatural age segregation and apply the strengths of one generation to meet the needs of another.

LIFE ElderCare Film Series: Awakenings
Share a special Grandparent's Day at the historic Niles Bankers Building in Fremont. Have a glass of wine, relax and enjoy three award-winning, independent films that portray the humorous as well as the philosophical sides of aging.

Film Schedule:
1 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Australian film by renowned actress Rachel Griffiths (Brothers and Sisters, Six Feet Under). A man readjusts to life alone after 45 years of marriage. He also has to solve the problem of the family milk cow, Tulip, who refuses to be milked.

Academy Award-winning short film:
"My Mother Dreams, the Satan Disciples in New York" Marian, recently widowed, travels from the Midwest to NYC to visit her daughter who lives across the street from a motorcycle gang.

2 p.m. - 3 pm.
"Grow Old Along With Me"
Julie Harris, Hume Cronyn, and James Earl Jones recite poetry about aging and talk about what getting old is like for them. Artists Frederick and Claske Franck, photographer Leni Sonnenfeld, and Buddhist nun Pema Chodron see aging as a creative process that carries with it an opportunity for giving birth in later years to one_s full humanity. Winner of the Cine Golden Eagle Award.

3 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Wine and hors d'oeuvres
Open discussion about the films and LIFE ElderCare's services moderated by Executive Director, Mary M. Anderson.

LIFE ElderCare Film Series
Sunday, September 13
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Niles Bankers Building
37611 Niles Blvd., Fremont
(510) 574-2091

The event is free of charge but seating is limited and registration is advised. Doors open at noon, come by early to meet the staff and enjoy some light refreshments.

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