2nd Annual RVA Breastfeeding Symposium Announced

First Food: The Intersection of Health, Race, Policy, and Practice

Richmond, VA – The 2nd Annual RVA Breastfeeding Symposium will take place on August 4 at the Virginia Historical Society. The focus of this year’s symposium is First Food: The Intersection of Health, Race, Policy and Practice.

The morning session of this day-long event will bring together citizens, policymakers, healthcare and social service providers, and community advocates to examine the structural and cultural barriers that undermine women’s ability to reach their breastfeeding goals, and explore the connection between infant feeding and food access issues. The afternoon session is a workgroup reserved for area health and social service providers who come into contact with pregnant and postpartum families.

The keynote speaker is Kimberly Seals Allers, an award-winning journalist, author and nationally recognized advocate for breastfeeding and infant health who is the project director for The First Food Friendly Community Initiative (3FCI), a W.K. Kellogg-funded pilot project in Detroit and Philadelphia to create a national accreditation process for breastfeeding-friendly communities. Elizabeth Gray Bayne, who holds a Masters of Public Health from Yale University and an MFA in film from the Art Center College of Design, will present excerpts from Chocolate Milk, her documentary exploring African-American women’s experiences with breastfeeding.

“It’s been estimated that if 90% of US women could achieve the American Pediatric Association recommendation of 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding followed by continued breastfeeding for 1 year, we could save $17.4 billion in maternal health care costs and an additional $13 billion in pediatric health costs each year,” says Leslie Lytle, Breastfeeding Coordinator for the City of Richmond. “Yet most women struggle to reach their breastfeeding goals and there are significant racial disparities in breastfeeding initiation and duration. Our goal with this year’s Symposium is to spark conversations among folks who might not think of breastfeeding as a foundational health equity issue.”

  • Where: The Virginia Historical Society, 428 N. Boulevard, Richmond VA
  • What: The Second Annual RVA Breastfeeding Symposium: First Food: The Intersection of Health, Race, Policy, and Practice.
  • When: Friday, August 4, 2017: 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • Cost: Free and open to the public; however pre-registration is required. Register on-line here

The RVA Breastfeeding Symposium is sponsored by #RVAbreastfeeds (formerly Richmond Health Action Alliance), a coalition funded by the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth and administered by the Richmond Healthy Start Initiative, a division of Richmond Department of Social Services. #RVAbreastfeeds has sponsored a variety of events to raise community support for breastfeeding families over the last five years.

The #RVAbreastfeeds planning team consists of representatives from Richmond Healthy Start Initiative, Richmond City Health District, Richmond City WIC, Anthem Healthkeepers Plus, and the RVA community. The RVA Breastfeeding Symposium is made possible through funding and in-kind support from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, Richmond Healthy Start Initiative, and Richmond City WIC.

Please contact Leslie Lytle at Leslie.Lytle@Richmondgov.com or call 646-3612 for more information.

 

RVAbreastfeeds Campaign Announced

For Immediate Release Contact: Michael Wallace  Friday, July 17, 2015 (804) 646-2772  

Michael.Wallace@Richmondgov.com 

“RVA Breastfeeds” Social Media Campaign Launched to Raise Support for World Breastfeeding Week, August 1 – 7 

Richmond, VA – The social media campaign, RVA Breastfeeds, has been launched to raise community support for breastfeeding mothers during World Breastfeeding Week, August 1 – 7. The campaign is sponsored by the Richmond Health Action Alliance, a coalition funded by the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth and administered by the Richmond Healthy Start Initiative, a division of Richmond Department of Social Services. The Richmond Health Action Alliance seeks to reduce childhood obesity through policy, infrastructure, and environmental changes that promote a breastfeeding-friendly and physically active community. 

During the campaign, life-sized cutouts of breastfeeding women and families that reflect the cultural diversity of Richmond will be strategically placed throughout the area. Other campaign components include community leaders serving as “Breastfeeding Champions,” the dissemination of breastfeeding facts, and peer-to-peer support in the form of tips for expecting and breastfeeding mothers. Local retailers and restaurants that display “Breastfeeding Is Welcome Here” stickers will also be highlighted. The multi-faceted campaign will take place via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, allowing for broad community participation. 

The Richmond Health Action Alliance has sponsored events during World Breastfeeding Week at the Virginia State Capitol for the past three years. “Breastfeeding has profound short and long term impacts on the health of children and their mothers, yet it is often framed as a women’s issue. Given the recent passage of Virginia legislation protecting women’s right to breastfeed in public, we thought the time was right for a much broader conversation,” said Leslie Lytle, Breastfeeding Coordinator for the City of Richmond. “Women don’t breastfeed in isolation. The support of fathers, family members, health care providers, and the larger community is critically important in helping women achieve their breastfeeding goals. A social media campaign provides a vehicle to get the word out to multiple audiences that this is an important public health issue in which everyone has a role.” 

“African-American mothers face particular challenges when it comes to breastfeeding, such as lack of access to culturally appropriate resources and support. This campaign allows us to highlight some of those challenges and to recognize community change-makers who are helping our most vulnerable families reach their breastfeeding goals,” said Rose Stith-Singleton, Richmond Healthy Start Initiative Project Director. 

The RVA Breastfeeds team consists of the Richmond Healthy Start Initiative, Richmond City Health District, Richmond WIC, Nurture, Healthy Hearts Plus II, cBe Consulting, Virginia Breastfeeding Taskforce, VCU Medical Center, Bon Secours Richmond Health System, HCA Richmond, Anthem Healthkeepers Plus, and the Institute for Public Health Innovation, with technical support provided by The Spark Mill. RVA Breastfeeds was made possible through funding and in-kind support from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, Richmond City WIC, Richmond Healthy Start Initiative and Nurture. 

The campaign can be found online at www.RVABreastfeeds.com, and on Facebook, Twitter - @RVABreastFeeds, and Instagram - @RVABreastfeeds. 

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Putting the love back into it

Blog reposted with permission from Nurture.

Cordelia Miller and granddaughter Joanne Lathon, great-granddaughter Tia Javier, and great-great granddaughter Mia.

Cordelia Miller and granddaughter Joanne Lathon, great-granddaughter Tia Javier, and great-great granddaughter Mia.

When Cordelia Miller, 91,  was a young mother working in the rural fields of Texas, she didn’t think twice about how to feed her baby.

“You went and got the baby from under the shade of the wagon, breastfed it when it was hungry, put the baby back under the wagon and went back to work,” says Ms. Miller, who attended a Nurture photo shoot in June focused on breastfeeding mothers.

Ms. Miller accompanied her daughter and great-granddaughter (a breastfeeding mother and subject of the shoot) and infant great-great-granddaughter to show her support for breastfeeding. Images from the photo session will be turned into lifesize cutouts for a City of Richmond campaign during World Breastfeeding Week August 1-7 to spark conversations about the topic.

Women from all different socioeconomic levels and backgrounds volunteered because they are passionate about breastfeeding becoming as commonplace and accepted as walking, sleeping, or eating. They are each pursuing a dream of improving the health of all mothers and children in our community. Many were accompanied by family members – husbands, partners, grandmothers – who were also staunch advocates for breastfeeding.

When Ms. Miller walked into the Round House at Byrd Park for her great-great granddaughter’s photo shoot, I knew immediately that something special was unfolding. While Nurture photographers worked to capture the mothers and their babies, I talked with Ms. Miller about what we were up to.

Her response to the the campaign, which is sponsored by the Richmond Health Action Alliance* and seeks to promote a breastfeeding-friendly and physically active community, was immediate and unequivocal.

“I don’t understand why we got away from it [breastfeeding],” she says, “It used to just be what we did.” She told us how proud she was of her great-granddaughter for breastfeeding her child.

She told us about giving birth to her own child in a segregated hospital here in Richmond, the city she’s lived in since she was 18. Miller brought to life, without bitterness or rancor, the racial divide that continues to separate our citizens and their access to health and wellness resources.

Grandma Miller talked about appreciating her own times, about being concerned about the times her grandchildren are growing up in. “But I guess we all like our own times better,” she says.

To have a great-great-grandmother in our presence – especially one who was such an obvious breastfeeding advocate – along with three generations of her family seemed like an occasion that needed to be honored. So we pulled a bench under the shade of a tall tree to snap a family portrait.


Cordelia Miller and granddaughter Joanne Lathon, great-granddaughter Tia Javier, and great-great granddaughter Mia.


Afterwards, I accompanied Ms. Miller for the short, slow walk back to her car. She said again, emphatically, “I don’t know why we got away from breastfeeding. It’s important. It puts the love back into it.”**

By the time we reached the waiting car, I was in tears, the good kind, the kind that fall when you know you are in the presence of a wise and mighty spirit.

Ms. Miller reminded me of how hard we’re working to get back to basic, primal human instincts – in part by supporting practices like breastfeeding that are grounded in biological and behavioral connection, which evidence suggests leads to much better health outcomes.

This is the essence of what we hope to do through Nurture – to provide resources that support and enhance the fundamental relationships and processes that emerge during the critical transition of pregnancy, birth, and early parenting. And to make access to these resources a level playing field, so we don’t perpetuate the disparities that hold our children back from being all that they could be.

Ms. Miller so beautifully reminded me of the essence of our goal: “to put the love back into it.”