Helping Babies Beyond Their First Year: A Day of Learning (WI LEND)

March 4, 2019

In Milwaukee, WI, 100 infants die before reaching their first birthday. Infant mortality disproportionately affects more Black infants than White infants in Milwaukee due to a variety of social, medical, and other complex factors. The Strong Baby Sanctuary is a network of faith-based organizations that are addressing this multifaceted issue by engaging the community in education, healthcare, and wellness. The Strong Baby Sanctuary particularly supports education surrounding prematurity, a major contributor to infant deaths, and safe sleeping environments. The Strong Baby Sanctuary comprises 39 organizations (e.g., churches, hospitals) whose primary goal is to help babies to and beyond their first birthdays. The organization that was founded because of great concern from a dedicated community member, Julia Means, BSN, a Parish Nurse at Ascension St. Joseph Hospital in Milwaukee.

On November 2, the second annual Shared Day of Learning was held at Ascension St. Joseph Hospital in Milwaukee. Trainees from the LEND programs in Wisconsin, including trainees from the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the LEND LINK Program, and the Pipeline Program at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee met with community members from the Strong Baby Sanctuary to learn from one another about this complex issue of infant mortality. Another community organization, the Pregnant & Parenting Youth Program of the Milwaukee Public School System, joined the conversation with the Strong Baby Sanctuary and trainees to develop and strengthen community partnerships specifically for young parents who are students to help support degree attainment.

The morning sessions included didactic seminars focused on reflection and collaboration, including the role of fathers in addressing infant health, and a presentation by the Pregnant & Parenting Youth Program of the Milwaukee Public Schools around their efforts in supporting young parents. The afternoon focused on shared learning through storytelling. Representatives from the Strong Baby Sanctuary and Blanket of Love (a supplemental prenatal and parenting education program) met with trainees to discuss how they have engaged community members around this issue, including enablers and barriers to these efforts. These conversations were then displayed as artistic depictions of each of the sanctuaries that trainees learned about. Trainees then shared with the group what each piece of artwork represented in relation to their Strong Baby Sanctuary representative's story.

This was an incredibly successful day of shared learning and a wonderful opportunity for trainees to have conversations with community members around a specific maternal and child health issue. We are all looking forward to next year!

Our artistic depictions of the Strong Baby Sanctuaries, created by trainees based on the Sanctuary members' stories!