CCP’s innovative work with religious leaders around the world is well known. Ministers, priests and imams have all used their powerful and influential positions to remind their followers to live safe and healthy lives. On Sunday, March 26th, CCP helped pastors in its hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, USA, use their pulpits to sing the praises of Baltimore’s littlest citizens—its babies.
B’more for Health Babies (BHB) is a Baltimore City initiative led by the Baltimore City Health Department that brings together communities, organizations and resources so that every baby has the best possible start. CCP has been providing communication support to BHB since 2009. During that time period, infant mortality has decreased by 40% and deaths due to unsafe sleep, a key driver of the infant mortality rate in Baltimore and BHB’s primary focus, have decreased by over 50%–from 27 deaths in 2009 to 13 deaths in 2015.
BHB’s first annual Precious Purple Sunday was a day of education and celebration. Over 5,000 congregants in 43 churches throughout Baltimore City and Baltimore County, Washington, DC and Cincinnati, Ohio learned how to keep their babies safe and healthy. They were encouraged to work together to support their families and communities.
Participating churches received a packet that included talking points for the pastor to incorporate into his or her sermon and bulletin inserts with coordinating scriptures, a list of suggested activities to engage children, and purple ribbons to wear as a sign of solidarity with other churches. They also received a variety of BHB materials for pregnant women and new parents. Attendees shared photographs and messages on social media using the hashtag #PreciousPurpleSunday. “[Precious Purple Sunday] has given me a happy face and I think the idea is charming, with a strong and compelling message,” said Carolyn Smith from Nazarene Baptist Church in Baltimore City.
Pastors were encouraged to remind worshipers that all babies need a safe sleep routine—they need to sleep alone, on their backs and in a crib, in a home that is smoke-free. They also received messaging on how to make breastfeeding in church easier, ways to support moms in their communities and how to connect to BHB resources.
To recognize Precious Purple Sunday, people around Baltimore were encouraged to wear purple—Baltimore’s favorite color. Wearing purple symbolized their pledge to help achieve B’more for Healthy Babies’ vision of all of Baltimore’s children being born healthy and growing and thriving in healthy families. Thanks to B’more for Healthy Babies more babies in Baltimore are celebrating their first birthdays than ever before, but there is still a lot of work to do. It is BHB’s goal that every mom, dad, caregiver, doctor, nurse, teacher, social worker, and community leader knows that every baby counts on them.
To learn more about B’more for Healthy Babies, please go to healthybabiesbaltimore.com.