A long line of participants pushed 31 empty baby strollers around Kimberley Park in Winston-Salem on September 21 to bring awareness to infant mortality in Forsyth County.
The event coincided with efforts across the country in recognition of September as Infant Mortality Awareness Month, and each of the 31 empty strollers represented an infant who was born alive but died before their first birthday in Forsyth County in 2020. Approximately 200 people from more than 28 organizations attended the Annual Walk a Mile to Save Our Babies Event, which was hosted by the Forsyth County Infant Mortality Reduction Coalition.
“It takes all of us working together, no matter what organization you’re from...for our small children,” said Public Health Director Joshua Swift.
County Commissioners Gloria Whisenhunt, Fleming El-Amin, Tonya McDaniel and Don Martin all participated in the walk. Commissioner El-Amin read a resolution on infant mortality that said it disproportionately affects African Americans, who accounted for 55 percent of infant deaths in Forsyth County in the most recent year of available data. Prematurity and low birth weight, birth defects, sudden unexpected infant death, and unsafe sleep practices are significant contributors to infant death and disproportionately affect minority communities.
The walk began and ended at St. John CME Church, where a luncheon was held afterwards. It included a video testimonial from community member La’Jacia Lyles about the loss of her newborn daughter and updates on local infant mortality prevention efforts from Dr. Pamela Oliver, OBGYN- president of Novant Health’s Physician Network and chair of the Forsyth County Infant Mortality Reduction Coalition.
There are several steps parents and other community members can take to help keep babies safe and healthy. These include avoiding second-hand smoke, learning about family planning and birth control options, placing babies to sleep on their backs in safe environments, supporting breastfeeding, recognizing the signs of premature labor, and managing stress. Additionally, women are encouraged to see their doctors before and during pregnancy and to take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid a day even if they aren’t planning to become pregnant.
For more information about the Forsyth County Infant Mortality Reduction Coalition and infant mortality prevention, visit www.helpourbabies.org.
For photos from the event, click here.