ROSE (Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, Inc.) is a non-profit focused on addressing breastfeeding disparities and improving health equity among people of color nationwide. ROSE seeks to normalize breastfeeding by providing resources and networking opportunities for individuals and communities. It accomplishes this using culturally-competent training, education, advocacy and support with a focus on increasing breastfeeding initiation and duration rates.
ROSE influences legislation and policies that affect breastfeeding on a national scale. Their vision is for breastfeeding disparities among African-American women to be significantly reduced by 2020 with 82 percent of babies receiving breast milk at birth. To carry out this vision, three major initiatives have been established: the Center of Excellence in Breastfeeding, an online journal and a ROSE Breastfeeding Blueprint. The goals for each aim to increase the scope and impact of ROSE’s programs among the African-American community living in the U.S.
Since its inception, ROSE has been a leader in breastfeeding education by hosting five Breastfeeding Summits and training peer breastfeeding support staff members under their Community Transformers program. In addition, ROSE has provided technical assistance to agencies to enhance Steps 3 and 10 of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, which specifically address the prenatal and postpartum support services needed at the time of discharge. They have also hosted International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) preparation courses for women of color, started breastfeeding clubs and started a Sankofa Cultural Breastfeeding Coalition.
In 2012, ROSE held its first annual conference entitled, “Reclaiming an African-American Tradition,” funded by the Office on Women’s Health and strongly supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Georgia Breastfeeding Coalition. The 2012 Breastfeeding Summit set the stage for an in-depth exploration of breastfeeding disparities for African-American families with a focus on identifying the pathway for reforming healthcare through breastfeeding. It was at this Breastfeeding Summit that the “It’s Only Natural Campaign” was first introduced to 200 physicians, nurses, dietitians, allied health professionals, government employees and community health workers that attended the two-day event. Since the first conference in 2012, ROSE has continued to hold an annual breastfeeding summit that awards continuing education credits and garners a turnout of more than 200 attendees from across the nation. In addition, ROSE has served as expert content advisors for several organizations and educational institutions which seek to address health equity through breastfeeding conferences.
ROSE Community Transformers serve as breastfeeding peer support systems that are designed to enhance the skills needed to provide mother-to-mother support. ROSE Community Transformers are phenomenal women that have breastfed for at least six months within the last five years and have a vested interest in helping other mothers in their communities. The training consists of evidence-based, culturally competent training enforcing the importance of breastfeeding, overcoming barriers, counseling mothers, community outreach and leading breastfeeding clubs. To date, ROSE has completed Community Transformer trainings for approximately 230 women in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts and Louisiana. ROSE also realizes the importance of academic certifications for its trainees, and provides IBCLC preparation courses and scholarships to minority women to become certified lactation consultants.
ROSE also continues to increase its presence in the public sector by continuing to engage the community as a family-oriented organization. Once a week, ROSE offers a free and informal breastfeeding club called, “ROSE Atlanta Baby Café,” for all moms and soon-to-be moms. At Baby Café, breastfeeding concerns and experiences are shared and addressed by ROSE breastfeeding-trained staff members. ROSE’s latest project has been the development of “Sankofa Cultural Breastfeeding Coalition,” a collaborative program that will harness the power of community to develop, advance and implement culturally-relevant interventions that will increase breastfeeding rates and decrease black infant mortality. This will help provide health equity for woman, babies, families and communities.
Overall, Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, Inc., seeks to enhance, encourage, support, promote and protect breastfeeding throughout the U.S.A., by working to reduce the breastfeeding disparities among African-American women. ROSE seeks to strengthen the health of their babies and families through mentoring, training, breastfeeding support groups, social support, outreach, education, legislation, health policies and social marketing.
For more information about Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, Inc., please visit our website: www.breastfeedingrose.org.