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Mile High Breastfeeding Celebration

Marlene Nuechterlein
CO USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 24 No. 6, November-December 2007, p. 284

Celebrated in over 120 countries, World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is the greatest outreach vehicle for the breastfeeding movement. It is officially celebrated every year in the first week of August. In honor of WBW, many LLL Groups across the world hold a celebratory event to promote breastfeeding and LLL in their communities.

In the USA, LLL Groups participate in WBW between May 1 and September 30. Groups generally combine fun activities with fund-raising for their local Group and LLL as a whole.

LLL of CO/WY and the Colorado Breastfeeding Task Force teamed up for a grand celebration in honor of World Breastfeeding Week. We spent about a year working together to create a fun, free, family event that everyone could enjoy. As a goal for this event, we wanted to break the national breastfeeding record. We called the event the National Mile High Breastfeeding Celebration. So many times in our society, breastfeeding only comes into focus when there is controversy. We really wanted to focus on celebrating breastfeeding. We broke the Colorado, USA record with 196 mothers nursing at once!

We held our event in the beginning of June to give LLL Groups a chance to fundraise for the International Conference and hopefully avoid the heat. It turned out to be the hottest day of the year at 102 degrees, so not as many families attended as we'd hoped for. Another drawback was the fact that we only had two food vendors -- when planning, we didn't realize how soon in advance they needed to be contacted.

LLL Groups were encouraged to have booths at the event to help raise funds for attending the LLLI 50th Anniversary Conference. We contacted businesses and ended up with a nice mix of over 40 vendors, which included real estate agents, herbs, original artwork, breast cancer awareness, and homemade clothing, among many others. We had lots of space to spread out because the event was held at a local college campus. This gave us access to bathrooms and a central location so participants from all over the state could get to the event easily. The college gave us free parking for the event because it was on a Sunday, and public transportation was easily accessed for those who didn't drive.

The vendor fees covered the cost of hiring Radio Disney for a part of our celebration. We were very excited about their presence because they provide live entertainment and do a lot of interactive activities with children. There was also a jumping castle and obstacle course big enough for both children and adults. A balloon artist and face painter donated their services. Many of the vendors gave items to use as free giveaways. We also had items donated from local hospitals and businesses for participants, including discount cards, healthy snacks, hand sanitizer, and bags. We gave prizes for the longest continuous nursing mom, who drove the farthest (from Virginia!), people who pre-registered, and people who turned in an evaluation questionnaire. We found lots of reasons to give gifts away.

It was exciting when people actually started to show up. Booths were popping up and families were walking. We shared breastfeeding facts, read breastfeeding poetry, and gave away goodies. We had local media coverage from every channel and one newspaper. We even had coverage from a newspaper in a neighboring city. The media reported our WBW celebration as a positive event. One of the news stations had enough coverage to create a half hour local morning show that aired two weeks after our event!

Despite the heat, our event was a success. We covered our costs, and so many people donated their time, merchandise, and services. I learned a lot about organizing and planning a WBW?event, and had fun doing it. I'll definitely be involved in an event like this again!

Although planning and celebrating WBW in 2007 is over, it's never too late to get involved with your local Group for next year's event! Find a Group near you at www.llli.org.

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