February 9, 2018
In 2014, I
left a community service forum deeply troubled by a startling statistic – 150
Columbus families would lose a child before his or her first birthday. That
night I resolved to lead the fight to lower infant mortality in our community.
I formed the Greater Columbus Infant Mortality Task Force, whose
recommendations led to the creation of CelebrateOne, which has been dedicated
to helping babies reach their first birthdays.
am not the only one moved to action by the infant mortality rate in Columbus.
Swain remembers reading an article about infant mortality in Columbus a couple
of years ago. Like me, he was unable to shake the fact that 150 babies would
not make it to their first birthdays. Rod works at City Year Columbus, where
their mission is to keep students in school and on track in high-poverty
neighborhoods. He loves his work, recruiting young adults to make a difference
in the lives of at-risk youth – but he realized that so many babies would never
have the opportunity for education at all.
October, Rod had the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream of competing on
“Jeopardy.” He decided that whatever he won, he would give to CelebrateOne. In
his letter he wrote, “Ever since I first learned about the infant mortality
problem here in Columbus, I have been very disturbed by it personally. I hope
this donation will help, and I’m only sorry it couldn’t be more.”
- While there is much more to be
done, we’ve had a lot of early wins in our fight against infant mortality.
- We reduced sleep-related deaths
by 50% from 2016.
- We increased the number of
prenatal appointments for pregnant women by 39% through the StepOne
- We trained more than 625
residents on safe sleep practices, with them becoming safe sleep
ambassadors in their communities.
- We received an-almost $1
million grant from the Ohio Finance Housing Agency to help extremely
low-income and homeless women find stable housing during pregnancy.
- Last week, we were told we will
receive $3.3 million in state funding for the CelebrateOne work.
donation, and the grants and funding we’ve received, means we are able to
continue to provide services to expectant mothers and babies. It means we are
getting closer to our goals of getting more babies to their first birthdays and
won a few battles, but the reality is that this is a long fight. Decreasing
infant mortality is a bigger problem that can’t be fixed with one solution. We
have to address issues from a societal and community level, from socioeconomic
factors to healthcare access, from education on sleep habits to tobacco use.
has a role to play in this fight to reduce infant mortality. I am grateful to
our CelebrateOne team, all of our partners, our sleep ambassadors, community
connectors and Rod. I am confident we are moving in the right direction.
I am inspired by people like Rod Swain who thinks we are, too.