HealthPartners and the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities are supporting parents to read, talk and sing to their young children every day. The two organizations teamed up to create “Boost Your Brain.” This booklet suggests different things parents can do to engage their child. Activities range from singing the ABCs to talking about favorite animals and what sounds and movements they make.

Research shows that 80 percent of a child’s brain develops in the first three years. And that’s what “Boost Your Brain” builds on. The booklet includes a chart on how the brain develops early on in life. And it shows the “exercises” that can help it grow. Reading, talking and singing are among the best exercises. They help prepare a child for a lifetime of learning, health and well-being.

The YMCA and HealthPartners are launching a pilot to see how parents respond to “Boost Your Brain.” The St. Paul Midway YMCA and the Eagan YMCA will hand out the booklet to start. They will give it to parents whose children attend the YMCA for childcare or other programs. The Eagan HealthPartners and Park Nicollet Pediatric Clinics will also have the booklet available in waiting rooms. Parent feedback will then be used to inform how the resource could be rolled out more broadly.

HealthPartners’ work with the YMCA is just one of several ways we are promoting the read, talk and sing message. In November 2016, we co-hosted “Bright Futures Begin at Birth” with the Greater Twin Cities United Way. More than 500 people from 200 organizations attended that event. They talked about how to ensure a healthy start for all children. We also partner with Reach Out and Read Minnesota. That program is now live in all of our pediatric and family practice clinics that see children. And that makes us the largest clinic system to fully participate in it.