Get out and play

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More grandparents than ever are either raising their grandkids or significantly contributing to their upbringing, according to the latest U.S. Census figures. In all, there are 62.8 million grandparents in the U.S., the most ever. They are projected to make up roughly 1 in 3 adults by 2020. Look for more details about this trend in an upcoming issue of the Beacon.

Fall brings myriad activities that can provide intergenerational fun. Go to a local farm to pick apples and pumpkins together with your grandchildren. Try one of the many upcoming festivals in the area (find out what’s going on in the Beacon Bits and Events sections of this website). Or just go outside and play.

That was the message of Nickelodeon TV’s Worldwide Day of Play on Sept. 24 on the Ellipse behind the White House. From rock climbing walls to tennis to obstacle courses, local kids, stars from some of the shows they love on TV like “iCarly” and “Big Time Rush,” and famous athletes all got to play together, in the name of fitness and fun. First Lady Michelle Obama even put in a cameo appearance.

During the event, my daughter and I had the opportunity to ask some of the Nickelodeon stars about their experiences with their own grandparents. (This being a day that was all about kids, press members were allowed to bring their children to try their hands at reporting. My daughter’s newest career aspiration? Celebrity journalism.)

Three of the teen stars of the show “Victorious,” about students at the fictitious Hollywood Arts High School, said they treasure the time they spend with their grandparents — and wish they could spend more time together.

“I miss my great-grandmother, who’s 94, and I always make sure I get to see her when I can,” said Daniella Monet, who is 18, and plays the show’s star Victoria Justice’s sister on “Victorious.” 

“I’m Italian, and getting together with family for big meals is everything,” said Elizabeth Gillies, 18, who plays Jade on the show “I love to hear stories from when my grandmother was growing up.”

Costar Ariana Grande chimed in, “When you’re traveling all over and working like we are, reconnecting with my family is so important.”

And being a couch potato with your grandkids can have its rewards.

Jeff Sutphen, 34, is host of a Nick game show called “Bainsurge” that tests contestants' and viewers' memory and concentration skills.

“This would be a fun show to watch with your grandchildren,” said Sutphen, who has fond memories of his grandparents taking him and his sisters to the park.

“I think the skills that kids hone on the show are pretty timeless and could be helpful to their grandparents as well.”