High infant mortality rates are every mom's problem. Take a stand and get involved during Infant Mortality Awareness Month.
Kimberly Seals Allers: Don't know what you can do? Consider these low-cost, high-impact ideas from the National Healthy Start Association -- a federally funded network of 102 local programs that help reduce infant mortality -- to make a mark in your community and help save lives:
Call your friends and neighbors and schedule a parade of families pushing their babies
in strollers and carriages. Distribute promotional flyers on the problem of infant mortality during the parade, which should last at least 20 minutes to gain attention. Try to get a local celebrity as a grand marshal. Recruit members from area junior leagues and mommy playgroups. Come up with a catchy slogan for your parade, such as "Buggying for Babies" or "Infant Mortality is NOT a Stroll in the Park."
Bowling for Babies
Ask your local bowling alley to host a bowl-a-thon on a slow day. Make your bowl-a-thon recession-friendly by asking sponsors to donate baby items instead of money for your scores. The winning bowler is the one who brings in the most items of highest value. The collected baby stuff can be donated or used to host a future baby shower for moms in need.
The Un-Birthday Party
Host a candlelight vigil on a playground. A birthday cake decorated in pink and blue
with a memorial black ribbon should be prominently displayed on a piece of playground equipment. Number the candles according to your local statistics (e.g., if there were 250 infant deaths last year, your candles should be numbered 1 to 250). Have a speaker draw attention to the cake, the playground that the deceased never got a chance to play on, and to the numbers on the candles representing those infants.
Baby Shoe Memorial
Go for the dramatic visual impact by asking local children's shoe stores, children's used clothing stores, and neighbors for baby shoe donations. The more shoes you have, the better. The memorial should clearly state that the shoes represent the number of babies in your community (or another part of the world) who died in the last year. Have the memorial displayed in highly visible locations such as City Hall, your state capitol, or in the lobby of an office building or large retailer. If you can't collect enough real shoes, use pink and blue paper cutouts of baby feet. The memorial can even be moved around to different locations for full community impact.
If you're not the organizing type, there are loads of events taking place all month that you can support. Search for upcoming events in your state at the National Healthy Start Association or at the Office of Minority Health.
Want to go global? Consider supporting projects worldwide that help provide access to clean water and prevent malnutrition as one way to make a difference. For example, you can help stop infant mortality in Afghanistan by supporting a Global Giving project that will help 12,000 Afghan women access pre- and postnatal care, thereby protecting their health during pregnancy and delivery. Or check out EndPoverty2015.org to see how you can support the United Nation's Millennium Goal to reduce the mortality rates of all children under five by 2015.
|Kimberly Seals Allers is an award-winning business journalist and founder and editor-in-chief of MochaManual.com, a weekly online magazine for moms of color. She is the author of "The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy" and "The Mocha Manual to Turning Your Passion into Profit." Kimberly is a divorcing mother of two and lives on Long Island, NY.|