One of the most common measures of the health of a community is infant mortality —the percentage of babies who die before their first birthday. As with many other health conditions, African Americans have the highest infant mortality rates in the country. Black babies die at three times the rate of white babies, even when the mother is well-educated and financially secure.
Researchers are increasingly clear that, even though Black women may have access to quality prenatal care, good nutrition, and self-care practices, the stress of racism and experiences of discrimination take a real toll on their bodies and affect the health and the well-being of their babies.
Advocate Health Care, along with several collaborative partners, received a grant from the City of Chicago to help organizations provide trauma-informed, healing centered care to mothers and pregnant people to help buffer that toxic stress.
We call our project Courage to Love, based on a report from a National Commission on Infant Mortality, which found that inequities in birth outcomes are a relational issue and solutions must be based on the ways in which we treat each other.
The report notes, “The paradigm to which the Commission has turned is that of relationality, an evolving field of study known in the physical sciences as systems theory, in political science as social capital, in behavioral science as social cohesion, and in theological discourse as love.”
When a national policy thinktank names love as a critical health intervention, that’s something to pay attention to!
Over the next two years, we will be convening Healing-Centered Learning Communities – groups of faith and organizational leaders who will complete 36 hours of training, so they can go back to share and build these practices in their own organizations.
Using the principles and practices from the Restorative Justice Movement, participants will build awareness and skills for nurturing positive connections with each other and with the people they serve.
There is no cost to participate in the Learning Communities. Participants may receive a stipend for participating if they are eligible through their organization.
If you would like to send a team from your congregation or organization to the Learning Community, find out more here. At this time, because the project is funded by the City of Chicago, participants must live or work in Chicago, but if you are in a different location, contact us and there are other ways we can work together.
We look forward to working and learning together to keep pregnant people, their partners, and babies thriving!