NC Healthy Start Foundation
Issue #1 - June 2010

Mother with baby

Women's Health

Preparing for the "Stork"

You’re waiting for the results…Will the doctor confirm my suspicions? Is there a line or plus symbol appearing on the stick of my home pregnancy kit? The time for women to be thinking about their health is long before getting those pregnancy results. The North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation is taking the lead on improving woman’s health, and empowering women to take care of themselves by taking charge of their health. For 20 years we’ve worked tirelessly to help decrease infant mortality in our state and now we are educating women to know that the better they care for their bodies before they become pregnant, the better the outcome for their babies.

Statistics tell us that half of all women having babies did not plan their pregnancies. Since we know that the first few weeks of pregnancy are important for the development of the fetus, we encourage women to be healthy and ready for pregnancy, even when they are not planning to be. Pregnancy is a special time for most families and should be prepared for during a lifetime and not just 9 months.

We know that fathers play an extremely important role in the health and well-being of mothers and families and we were excited to have the opportunity to involve men in our efforts by working on
The First Time Motherhood/ New Parent Initiative with the Women’s Health Branch of the N.C. Division of Public Health. This initiative allowed us to facilitate six community-based trainings for women and men to become community health coaches in six rural northeastern counties (Gates, Hertford, Northampton, Halifax, Nash and Edgecombe). During the trainings, women and men were given the tools to empower themselves and to motivate others in their communities to take charge of their health and develop a plan for having children—if or when they want them. Participants were encouraged to explore questions such as “Are you ready to have a family?” and “What is your plan for a healthy life and a healthy family?”

Tips to Take Charge of Your Health:

  • Track and record your health history
  • Know your family’s health history
  • See your healthcare provider on a regular basis
  • Get your recommended tests and screenings
  • Know your BMI (Body Mass Index)
  • Make an exercise plan and stick to it
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Learn to relax and cope with life’s stresses
  • Get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections

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Infant Safe Sleep

Keeping Your Baby Safe

How do you get important information? TV, radio, the internet? Are you one of those few people who still wait for the newspaper to be delivered to your doorstep? We have a new way of helping you learn important, potentially lifesaving information about infant safe sleep. Take a few minutes, sit back and learn something new.

Since 1994, the North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation has coordinated the N.C. Back to Sleep Campaign, (now known as the Infant Safe Sleep Campaign) and provided statewide public education and awareness to increase understanding about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and ways to reduce its risks. Until recently, we shared these messages the
“old-fashioned” way—primarily with brochures, professional trainings and community outreach. Of course, there have been occasional billboards, press conferences, radio and television commercials and other strategies, but our audience has been limited by how far we could travel, where we could send the materials and who was paying attention at that moment. Not anymore. With a click of a button or a roll of the mouse, anything we want to learn is at our fingertips and can be viewed at our convenience.

During the month of May we presented infant safe sleep messages on the new NBC-17 television program, MyCarolina Today. Don’t worry if you weren’t home to watch them or forgot to record them. You can view the segments
online at your convenience. This digital media shift allows us the opportunity to provide health education 24 hours a day.

In these video segments, North Carolina Infant Safe Sleep Coordinator Marta Pirzadeh speaks directly to parents and other caregivers about ways to keep their baby safe while sleeping, shows them how to set up a safe crib and provides tips for traveling with a baby when he’s not in his own sleep space. Although SIDS can’t be prevented, there are ways to reduce the risk. Check out the segments now…or later, whatever suits you. It will only take a few minutes. You might learn something that could save a baby’s life.

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Closeup of baby sleeping


Healthy Women, Healthy Communities

When it comes to women’s health, North Carolina could do a much better job. Women in our state have among the worst rates of deaths due to stroke and diabetes. When a woman’s health falters, so may the health of her family. In an effort to help women lead healthier, happier and longer lives, this spring the North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation kicked off its first round of annual RICHES, Resources in Communities Help Encourage Solutions, regional meetings. RICHES is a community-based women’s health initiative designed to address the health and health-related needs of women of reproductive age.

In 2009 the N.C. GlaxoSmithKline Foundation awarded the NCHSF a
three-year grant to continue RICHES which originally started as a pilot project in 2007. This spring nearly 100 organizations across the state participated in regional meetings at sites located in Lee, Sampson, Guilford, Edgecombe, Buncombe and Mecklenburg counties. The meetings focused on improving the health of women, particularly minorities and those living in low wealth communities, by sharing resources and strategies related to women’s health and well-being. Representatives from numerous organizations discussed challenges they face in providing services to their clientele. Many of the organizations cited funding and transportation issues as primary barriers to helping the women they serve.

At the meetings attendees were trained on how to use the new Health Journal Tool Kit. The tool kit provides instructions and activities on a variety of health topics in a portable, easy-to-use, flip chart binder. It was designed for community groups to use with the women they serve; one-on-one in a clinic or home-visiting setting, or in small groups. The tool kit builds on
My Health Journal and includes topics such as recommended checkups, reproductive health, emotional health, family health history and setting health goals. It also provides space for women to chart new health behaviors and keep track of their health history and test results.

Participants formed groups in a role-play activity using the Health Journal Tool Kit. Each group was responsible for selecting a topic from the tool kit and presenting it. All six trainings were made possible by the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation and a one time grant from the North Carolina Office of Women’s Health. RICHES is one of many initiatives developed by NCHSF to reduce infant death and illness and improve the health of women and young children across the state.

Group of African Americans with a globe

Latino Health

Shhh... We don't talk about that...

What do sex, HIV, domestic violence and substance abuse have in common? All are issues that affect the Latino community but are considered taboo and are not discussed openly. Or are they? How do you talk to your children about sex? How do you approach the subject of birth control and sexually transmitted diseases in a culturally appropriate way? We have some ideas.
Salud Latina Health
Since 1998 NCHSF has been committed to reaching out to the Latino community and providing linguistically and culturally appropriate information. The Foundation launched the Marta Campaign in 1998 to promote two publicly funded health insurance programs for children (Health Check and NC Health Choice). In 2000, it launched the Ana Maria Campaign, which provided information through Spanish language PSAs, fotonovelas and other Spanish language materials.  Collaboration with other agencies that serve the Latino community has always been an important piece of the Foundation’s efforts to make health information available to the growing Latino community.

On April 10, 2010 about 100 members of the Latino community came together to speak about topics often considered taboo. The second annual Speaking the Forbidden: A Conference about Sexual Health, Mental Health and Human Rights was organized by the North Carolina Reproductive Justice Coalition. The free all-day event provided workshops, all held in Spanish, to address sexual violence, substance abuse by adults and youth, HIV prevention, domestic violence, and how to speak to your children about sex.

As a member of the Coalition and co-sponsor of this event, the
North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation shared Spanish-language resources on HIV (
VIH: Una Realidad) and women’s health (Mujer Total,
Mi Diario de Salud) and organized two of the workshops. The workshop “Health and Well-Being” addressed the importance of women and men taking care of their health and increasing their physical activity. Given that 65% of Latinas do not meet the minimum requirements for being physically active, the session included 30 minutes of Zumba and 30 minutes of basic yoga to motivate participants to start making small changes in their lives. Female participants received a copy of Mi Diario de Salud  and men a copy of the Men’s Maintenance Manual (soon to be available in Spanish).

The North Carolina Reproductive Justice Coalition was formed in 2007 to bring together progressive organizations, advocates, health care providers and women living in Chatham, Durham, Orange and Wake counties and jointly find solutions for Latinas to obtain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health information and services. For information on getting involved in planning the next conference or for more information on Spanish language resources, contact Tania Connaughton-Espino, Latino Program Manager at the NCHSF.

Two Latina Women

Foundation News

Celebrating 20 Years

Twenty years ago, North Carolina was a very dangerous place for babies. 
In 1988, nearly 13 babies died during their first year of life for every 1,000 that were born. In response, the North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation was formed with five years of funding from (then) Glaxo, Inc. The mission:
“to reduce infant mortality and morbidity in North Carolina”. Twenty years later, 8.2 babies died during their first year of life – a 35% decrease.  Progress?  You bet. But we’re not satisfied and we are dedicated to see those numbers continue to decline.

Infant mortality is a complex social issue with medical consequences.  Research doesn’t provide easy answers, but prevention is critical.  And that means not only supporting women while they are pregnant, but improving the health of all women of childbearing age. That has been, and continues to be, our focus. While more work needs to be done, our successes to-date are many:

Culturally Appropriate Education and Outreach Initiatives

Strong Partnerships and Advocacy

  • A unique public-private partnership and unprecedented collaboration with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health
  • Strong partnerships with business and industry, hospitals, universities, state agencies and community-based organizations
  • Creation and support for local coalitions including social, health, governmental, educational, religious and business partners
  • Advocacy resulting in N.C.’s 2003 Prevent SIDS Law
  • Investment in local communities by providing 357 grants totaling nearly $4 million to address specific local issues that contribute to infant mortality.

For twenty years the North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation has been guided by a dedicated and committed Board of Directors providing strong leadership.

A small, extremely talented and passionate staff sees the possibilities, not the limitations. 

Many thanks to our friends and partners across the state – the North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation will be forever grateful for your time, energy and involvement. We appreciate your support for the last 20 years and we look forward to our next 20 years of service.

Closeup of pregnant women's belly


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 North Carolina. Healthy Start Foundation | 1300 St. Mary's Street, Suite 204 | Raleigh, NC 27605 | 919-828-1819