COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A new baby can make so many fond memories, but sadly in central Ohio, every parent can’t share the joy of their baby’s first birthday because of infant mortality.
For Black History Month, local fraternities and sororities are teaming up with Celebrate One to make sure each baby can celebrate their first birthday.
“Alone, on their back and in their crib.”
It’s the ABCs of making sure your baby doesn’t fall prey to infant mortality.
Maureen Stapleton with Celebrate One want to make sure every mother and father knows those important ABCs.
“We are the backbone of a variety of partnerships throughout the city who are focused on one thing: our mission, saving babies,” Stapleton said. “We do that by focusing our work that reduces infant mortality and by lessening the racial disparities that exist in the numbers.”
And those numbers are alarming to the point Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said saving babies is a priority.
“We can’t reach our full potential as a community, if we want shared prosperity and dynamic and inclusive growth, then we have to make sure those individuals have the best shot,” he said.
The numbers here in Franklin County are among the worst in any county across the country. Each week, three families lose a baby in Franklin County – 150 boys and girls every year – and African American babies are dying double the rate of white babies.
“And I’m looking at the smiles on their faces and I’m looking at just how much joy they’re receiving in that moment, especially around their first birthday,” said Curtis Walker with the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
Walker and Alpha Phi Alpha are part of the Divine Nine fraternities and sororities who teamed up with Celebrate One for Black History Month to raise funds and awareness that could help save Black and brown babies in Franklin County.
Walker’s sons are 4 and 6-years-old and he’s calling on everyone to get involved by sharing the message that babies should sleep on their backs, alone in their crib, without a blanket.
“Yeah, I’ll put out the challenge,” Walker said. “As I said, seeing those babies’ smiles is so warm and not just your own, but those in the community.”