Published: November 10, 2016
On any given day, you might find UNTHSC School of Public Health assistant professor Marcy L. Paul, PhD, reading to elementary students in local schools and day care centers, working with parents-to-be at area churches, helping high school kids clean up the environment, or connecting with others to build a healthier community.
It’s no surprise then – when she was recently contacted by family friends looking to get involved in a community project to help high school student Bryce Kleinman, 17, earn his Eagle Scout merit badge – that Dr. Paul had just the project in mind.
With assistance from his Scout troop, his dad Sam Kleinman, MD, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Cook Children’s Medical Center, and mom Diane, Bryce helped a Southeast Fort Worth day care center become a Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite.
Businesses and organizations designated as Mother-Friendly Worksites have a commitment to breastfeeding employees and their families by offering privacy and flexibility for moms to express and store breast milk.
Bryce’s plan was to create a private space for moms by designing and building a curtained area. He also made a table, framed the center’s official Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite certificate and decorated with colorful accessories, to give moms a comfortable, personal experience of their own.
“Having this quiet and cozy space is truly a benefit, and already we have a mom using the space,” said Jeannie Ransom, Sunrise Early Learning and Development Center CEO. “Now when parents come to tour, we are able to showcase and promote that we are a mother-friendly site.”
Through the project, Bryce and his Scout troop learned a lot about Tarrant County’s H3: Healthy Moms-Healthy Babies-Healthy Community collaboration, focused on battling the high rates of infant mortality among African American families. Infant mortality is defined as the loss of a child within the first year of life.
Through the H3 collaboration, community members and organizations who live, work and serve in Southeast Fort Worth neighborhoods come together to focus on the “Life Course” approach, recognizing that birth outcomes are driven by women’s overall health and the community health problems they experience throughout their lifetime.
In short, the healthier a woman’s life is – throughout her life – the healthier her pregnancy, and her baby, can be. Connecting community members to resources and support systems in their own community is one key factor in having a healthier Life Course.
“I believe that when there is a need in the community, it is part of one’s civic duty to help meet it,” Bryce said. “This project added value to the community and was a tremendous learning experience both for me personally and for my entire troop.”