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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Jeanne Zehr, director of community impact for United Way of Allen County, announced the launch of a new education initiative in partnership with Parkview.

Parents offered help in preparing kids to learn

In partnership with PNC Bank and Parkview Health, the United Way of Allen County unveiled a new initiative Tuesday aimed at helping parents better connect with their children starting when they’re babies.

The “Let’s Talk” initiative provides parents with resources and guidance aimed at helping parents improve their child’s brain development, school readiness and overall learning capacity.

“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 for United Way of Allen County. “Talking to your baby can help them grow an amazing mind.”

When new parents leave the Parkview Family Birthing Centers in Allen County, they will take with them a package of educational materials including a board book and more.

The materials, put together by volunteers from Lamplight Communities, will cover resources in the community for infants and toddlers, as well as suggestions for parents on how to better interact with their children to help them learn and grow.

Some suggestions for better interaction include singing to your baby while you do laundry or cook, and talking to your baby during bath time by describing the colors and shapes of bath toys.

“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 for women’s and children’s services at 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.”

Additional opportunities will be made available to parents when their babies are three months old, including another board book and a list of physical and developmental milestones.