The Office of Minority Health (OMH), of the Department of Health and Human Services, in 2007, launched A Healthy Baby Begins with You - a national print and radio campaign to raise awareness about infant mortality with an emphasis on the African American community. The campaign slogan is an empowerment message, encouraging expectant parents to utilize community resources and become educated about the things they can do to give their babies a healthy start. With Tonya Lee as the spokesperson for the print and radio campaign, A Healthy Baby Begins with You has reached many communities over the last several months. The campaign has traveled the country quite successfully with events in Washington, DC; Detroit, Michigan; Wichita, Kansas; Brooklyn, New York; Tallahassee, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; Nashville, Tennessee; and Biloxi, Mississippi.
Preconception Peer Educators (PPE) Program
As the success of the campaign continues, OMH has been asked by communities, organizations and health departments: now what? Heeding the call, OMH has launched Phase II of this campaign where the focus will be on preconception care. Since research has shown that preconception health is one of the most important and less emphasized aspects influencing birth outcomes and maternal and infant health, OMH is retooling its campaign to start earlier in women and men’s lives.
In Phase II, OMH is getting more involved with the college-age population to educate them as ambassadors to target their peers who are not attending college. Working with the college age population, and enlisting college students as peer educators not only in college campuses but also in the community at large will help disseminate essential preconception health messages that may seem too foreign for a population that may not be actively seeking to start a family.
OMH, in partnership with Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP), CityMatCH, and March of Dimes, is conducting a pilot of the PPE program in September (Infant Mortality Awareness Month) on the college campuses of Fisk University, Meharry Medical College, Spelman College, Morgan State University and University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.
Goals of the Preconception Peer Educators (PPE) Training
- Reach the college-age (black) population with targeted health messages emphasizing preconception health and healthcare.
- Train minority college students – blacks in particular – as peer educators.
- Arm the peer educators with materials, activities and exercises to train their peers in college and in the community at large.
For more information, please contact Isabel M. Estrada-Portales, Director of Communications via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the OMH website at www.omhrc.gov