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How You Can Support Your Local La Leche League Group

Cindy Garrison
Canonsburg PA USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 24 No. 1, January-February 2007, pp. 42-43

The events for the 2006 World Breastfeeding Week Celebration (WBWC) have been held, money has been collected, and goals have been met. As a mother attending a La Leche League Group, you may have participated in a walk, fair, book sharing, or other event to help raise funds. You may be wondering how you can help with next year's event. Or you may attend a Group that did not participate in WBWC. After reading about this event, you may be wondering how you can get the others in your Group interested in joining the fun for 2007.

To be the most successful, the celebration of World Breastfeeding Week involves everyone in the Group, not just LLL Leaders. As you look ahead to 2007, here are some things to consider:

1. Talk to a Leader to see how you can help plan an event for World Breastfeeding Week. Be honest with how much time you feel you can offer. Some of the many ways mothers can help include being the planner of the event, helping bring food, being the treasurer, getting items to decorate the event site, encouraging other mothers to help, sending notices of the event to the local newspapers and other media, being responsible for delivering items, and soliciting donors. It all depends on the type of WBWC event planned.

2. Have some goals in mind for the Group's WBWC event. Does it seem like the Group has only one or two new mothers every now and then? Perhaps there is a need for increased publicity and visibility for the Group. During a meeting, do mothers share experiences of receiving poor information from health care professionals? The goal might be to put La Leche League information sheets in each pediatric or obstetric office. Did you find it difficult to get good information on breastfeeding when you were pregnant? Then your goal might be to put a copy of THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING in each library in your community. Do you sometimes wish your husband could hear some of the discussion you enjoy and learn from at meetings? Then perhaps the goal would be to have a way to bring the families together to help your husband see how breastfeeding looks beyond your own family. Perhaps you have heard discussion on the Area Conference or the La Leche League International Conference during the meeting or you've read about it in NEW BEGINNINGS and wonder how you and others in the Group could afford to go. Conference registrations are a legitimate use of funds raised through a World Breastfeeding Week Celebration event.

3. Consider the type of event you think the Group could hold. Often, the event is tailored to match the goal. If the Group has big or public goals, the event is usually big and more public. If the Group has smaller or more personal goals, the event is usually smaller and more private.

Some Groups hold walks at the local mall, high school football track, or park. They decorate wagons with signs or balloons as they walk and they may solicit sponsors. Other Groups participate in Community Days at the mall. They may hand out flyers, offer a drawing, have face painting, or make balloon animals to collect donations. Some Groups have auctions locally or they will put items on auction Web sites with proceeds going to the goal selected.

Group picnics are popular ways to bring families together. The site can be decorated with balloons and signs. Local stores and companies can by approached to give items, coupons, or gift certificates that can be used in silent auctions. Games can be planned for adults and children. Or it can simply be a picnic to offer an informal way for members and their families to get to know others who may share similar approaches to parenting.

4. What if the Group is not interested in participating in the World Breast-feeding Celebration and you would still like to help in some way? Contact the Area Coordinator of Leaders (ACL) who serves the state you live in (the Group's Leader can provide that information or you can go to the Area page on the LLLI Web site (www.llli.org) .The Area might need an Area World Breastfeeding Week Celebrations Coordinator (AWC) to work with all the Groups that do hold an event. If you accept this role, there is an email list to link all AWCs together to help you learn. Or, you might prefer to work with another Group on their event. The ACL or AWC can help direct you to the closest Group planning an event.

It's never too early to begin planning for the next World Breastfeeding Week Celebration. You can be an important part of that planning. The finishing touch would be to write an article about the event for New Beginnings to share the fun and success you had. In that way, your efforts could influence other mothers to become involved in World Breastfeeding Week Celebrations in their community and expand the awareness of breastfeeding and La Leche League where you live and across the world.

Celebrating Breastfeeding One Book at a Time

Alice Barbiere
Westfield NJ USA

"Today, I posted a World Breastfeeding Week Release Challenge! You can see it here at www.BookCrossing.com."

And with that, Julie Johnson of Whittier, California began a decidedly different and fun event to raise awareness about breastfeeding during the annual World Breastfeeding Week Celebration (WBWC). Not familiar with BookCrossing? It is a Web site where you can register a book you have read, get an ID number for that book, and then leave the book somewhere for someone else to find. It is easy and very addictive, especially if you like books.

Julie had created a "release challenge" where BookCrossing members could challenge other registered members of the site to release books on a particular theme during a particular time frame.

Julie asked participants to see how many breastfeeding-related books could get released into the "wild" during the month of August. Eventually, 29 people gathered about 100 great breastfeeding books, registered them on bookcrossing.com, and then released them for others to find. People participated from the USA, Holland, and Portugal.

The unusual theme was noticed by the people who run BookCrossing.com, who then featured Julie's challenge on their home page for much of the month. They offered encouragement mid-way through saying, "The challenge is still going on so there is still time to find your books and make your releases. A big welcome to new members who came to us via this challenge and a heartfelt congratulations on the new little reader in your life." They also mentioned that the World Breastfeeding Week release challenge was noticed by the LLLI mother-to-mother forum to which it was linked in the online feature.

Julie's challenge was not only a way to get breastfeeding books out to the community, it was also her way to use World Breastfeeding Week as a springboard for breastfeeding publicity. The challenge was also listed on the LLL in the USA Web site (www.lllusa.org).

People who discovered this challenge were instantly enthusiastic. One participant posted, "This is my first release ever but what a great reason to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week! My book is THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING. Happy nursing and happy reading!" One mother wrote to say, "Way to Go! Without LLL, I would not have been a breastfeeding mom to both of my sons (now in their 20s, and over six feet tall). Thank you La Leche League, for being there when I needed you!" Another participant summed it all up, saying, "This is a great idea and I am excited to take part!"

"I really didn't know what to expect when I posted the challenge," Julie said. "Seeing 100 books released for our first challenge exceeded all my expectations. I look forward to coordinating another WBWC book release next year and have already started collecting books from my local second hand book store."

As Julie's challenge said, "Thank you for promoting World Breastfeeding Week in your community!"

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