A child turning one year old is a big deal for any parent, but it is especially gratifying for parents of African American children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Black babies are three times more likely to die before their first birthday than White babies, prompting many Black parents to view their baby’s inaugural anniversary year as a milestone.
As part of our comprehensive package of services, Show Me Strong Families (SMSF) our St. Louis-based affiliate, works to lower the incidence of prematurity and maternal and infant morbidity and mortality in the area by getting involved in the early stages of Black women’s pregnancy.
“We do this in part by promoting safe sleep practices and offering doula services,” said Ann Young, Parents as Teachers director of Partnerships and Community Engagement. SMSF doulas are cross-trained as parent educators who provide emotional, physical, and educational support to an expectant mother during pregnancy, labor, and in the weeks following the birth. As non-clinical support for the mom, they work to improve health outcomes.
“This First Birthday group connection is not only one of the cutest, but also one of the most meaningful groups we have. Each year, under the leadership of Donna Givens, Parents as Teachers manager of Community Partnerships and Groups, we bring the families together for a great meal, birthday presents, entertainment, and an opportunity to celebrate together. Also, each year, the celebration has a theme. This year’s theme was “Wild One.”