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World Breastfeeding Week: Efforts from Windows of Opportunities

Alice Barbiere
WBW in the USA Team
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 23 No. 6, November-December 2006, pp. 282-283

One day last year Candace Hill, a Leader in Illinois, happened to see a photo of a World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) window display that a Connecticut Leader had put together. The display highlighted information about breastfeeding in general and World Breastfeeding Week in particular. Inspired, Candace was determined to find a window of her own. It took her 10 minutes to locate a community display window in Evanston, Illinois, USA, connect with the manager, and obtain permission to use the display space for the month of August. Candace's philosophy is: "We can do a window for WBW and even though it's not about the money, it's about what we do." Candace explained how many different ways there are to connect and build relationships. She said:

If I had not seen that picture of the Connecticut WBW window display, I wouldn't have thought to do my own window and build a relationship with the local bank. Now I know a prominent Evanston banker whom I didn't know before. What's really interesting is that he knew all about La Leche League.

This simple beginning by a lone Leader led to commitments from other area Leaders and an event at the local Wild Oats market. Customers who brought their own bags to the grocery store were offered wooden nickels to place in one of three boxes designated for local nonprofit organizations. To make the event even more fun, Wild Oats agreed to donate a gift basket to a raffle. On August 3, local LLL families gathered to purchase dinner at the store, play and visit, share a donated cake, and enter a raffle for several fun prizes. About 12 families participated, complete with dads and grandparents. The real joy was in connecting with many shoppers who were pleased to walk through a World Breastfeeding Week event on their way to the deli case.

Evanston's event may not have been large, but the results of their efforts have continued to ripple throughout the community. In addition to the World Breastfeeding Week window display at the bank, they connected with their Illinois congresswoman who has sponsored breastfeeding legislation, and on August 14 the Mayor of Evanston issued a proclamation at the City Council meeting in support of breastfeeding. The local community newspaper published a feature article on World Breastfeeding Week, highlighting the community health nurses working with the city. The event was reported on by a young graduate student at Northwestern University. By the time she said goodbye to everyone, she looked at Candace very seriously and had only one comment about breastfeeding, "You sure convinced me!"

The latest WBW ripples in Evanston included an invitation to participate in the school district health fair in September; a connection with the Evanston health nurses, (both are lactation consultants who were helped by LLL with their own babies years ago), and a future meeting planned with the lactation consultants with the goal to provide them with LLL tear-off sheets, which they had never seen.

Evanston now has an interesting Internet "newspaper" called Evanston Now and recently, Candace started a blog about World Breastfeeding Week to spread the word about their WBW event. The owner of Evanston Now was so impressed with Candace's writing that she asked her to continue to write about other city events.

So you can see that this WBW window display was truly a window of opportunity with the ripples continuing to flow through the community and spreading the La Leche League mission.

For information on WBW in the USA, go to www.lllusa.org/wbw.

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