Editor's note: YSA will be celebrating Grandparents Day 2012 Week with Generations United in DC on Thursday. Grandparents Day is a time to Do Something Grand! It is a call to action for grandparents and people of all ages to join together and advocate on behalf of America’s future: our children and youth.
Grandparents Day has always meant a great deal to me. My entire extended family lives on the West Coast, and I grew up in Maine, so getting my grandparents to show up at school for Grandparents Day was never an option. As a kid, I regretted that I did not live closer to my grandparents, and thus had a great sense of appreciation for my elderly next-door neighbors. Margaret and George always made it a point to come to Grandparents Day as my surrogate grandparents, and it meant the world to me. Teachers and friends alike never doubted that Margaret and George were my grandparents because they were so supportive of my endeavors, and I was proud to say that they were, at least for a day.
I can attribute much of my interest in civic participation to Margaret and George’s active involvement in my life. They were calmly enthusiastic about Maine politics, volunteered with the local city library, and directly served their community and neighbors. They taught me to view the world with empathy and optimism and to think about purposefully creating something better for others. It didn’t have to be much—shoveling someone else’s driveway without being asked or creating a quiet space to color and read for the afternoon—but it should be meaningful and affect someone’s life in a positive way. Margaret and George taught me that civic responsibility was an everyday value, and I try to apply that to my work and life every day.
Generations United is asking youth to commit to Do Something Grand and connect and serve with grandparents or older adults in your community. It is also asking grandparents and older adults to commit to Do Something Grand by sharing wisdom, perspectives, and key civic values with and on behalf of young people. It is through these intergenerational strategies that Generations United hopes to improve the lives of children, youth, and older adults.
You can check out the Grandparents Day Take Action Guide for great activity suggestions.
Every year I could count on Margaret and George to be at school for Grandparents Day. They marked their calendars a year in advance, and never forgot. And they never forgot to actively participate in civic life, either. Connect with your grandparents, surrogate grandparents, grandkids, elderly or young friends this week, to learn from them, thank them, and Do Something Grand.