Exploring Healthy Babies and Healthy Communities: Bridging the Support

by TeeNeka N. Jones, Illinois Early Childhood Fellow, HealthConnect One

Detroit Region V 2012 027For over 25 years, HealthConnect One has brought people together in small and large groups, sharing experience and support, always moving towards action. We have hosted national conferences and community trainings. Every day, we provide technical assistance, mentoring and guidance to program sites in seventeen states.  Last month, with support from the W.K.Kellogg Foundation, we held our very first Regional Meeting. Fifty-one people participated.  We called it “Exploring Healthy Babies & Healthy Communities: Bridging the Support.”

Detroit Region V 2012 026HealthConnect One’s first Midwest Region V meeting was held in Detroit, Michigan on December 6, 2012 with great success. We convened community health workers, breastfeeding peer counselors, community-based doulas, administrators, funders, program officers, and other key stakeholders for a one-day meeting — to network, learn about HC One and the larger early health and early learning field, and engage in collective action! We had attendees across four states, which created an opportunity for all stakeholders to take part in the conversation and have their voices validated.

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Participants had the opportunity to be intimately engaged in a conversation, in a round-table discussion format. There were table facilitators leading topics related to maternal and child health promotion, such as a Doula story, Breastfeeding, Community Health Workers, Sustainability, Advocacy, and Trauma. Information was shared and questions were addressed in a one-to-one/peer-to-peer style. The day opened with a lively panel discussion, structured for full group participation.  The closing of the day engaged participants in a collective action conversation — ensuring all participants would be acknowledged and have their voices become part of moving the work forward.

Detroit Region V 2012 111Evaluations showed that an overwhelming number of participants really enjoyed the structure of the meeting.  They told us the engaging conversation exchange allowed for transparency and for participants to express their passion. 84% of the participants ranked the Doula story roundtable excellent and emphasized how they enjoyed hearing it directly from a Doula; 77% of the participants ranked the Trauma presentation excellent, and were intrigued by the discussion; the Breastfeeding table session was ranked excellent by 79% of the participants who engaged in the dialogue; 86% of the participants gave the Sustainability conversation an excellent ranking, with a renewed sense of understanding; and lastly, 66% of the participants gave an excellent ranking to the Advocacy table which gathered newly-committed advocates. Finally, 89% of the attendees appreciated having the meeting take place in a familiar environment, located within a community where they have ties.

Detroit Region V 2012 012We are encouraged by such great evaluation rankings.

“This was an exceptional group of passionate people, committed to the health of babies, children, and families.”

~ Meeting Participant (Detroit, Michigan)

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Don’t you wonder what the buzz is about?  We invite you, too, to get involved!