Baby 1st Network Joins Forces with the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity

Sep 28, 2016

Nearly all sleep related infant deaths are preventable and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. is committed to lowering the number of these deaths through educational outreach in the Ohio’s African American communities.  To support this national initiative, Kappa Alpha Psi Chapters around the state of Ohio will conduct 20 community health forums in conjunction with the SID (Sudden Infant Death) Network of Ohio.  The goal of the educational outreach is an effort to improve the birth outcomes for all Ohio residents while specifically lowering the number of SID deaths among African American children in the state. The Columbus Alumni Chapter will collaborate with the East Central Province of Kappa Alpha Psi, the regional governing body, to coordinate efforts throughout the state. The fraternity will focus on engaging specific chapters in the High Risk Infant Mortality Hot Zones. These chapters include Dayton, Akron, Youngstown, Cleveland and the Toledo Alumni chapters. The 20 forums will be conducted in areas where the disparity of infant mortality among African Americans is the highest. This collaborative will strive to inform the community on the disparate statistics and the impact infant mortality has on the nation, state and their community has a whole.

This collaborative initiative is operating on the premise that in order for a person to effect changes, one must first be well educated and informed that there is something that needs to be changed.  If parents are aware of the dangers posed to their children, they may act accordingly to protect the defenseless.

One direct strategy to increase the awareness of the negative effects of infant mortality is having on Columbus’s African American population is by providing young African American men who are parents an opportunity to engage with other African American men who are successful parents in the targeted areas. A dialogue will be encouraged by community leadership around this issue in an effort to empower a neighborhood of individual parents to save the lives of their babies one by one.

“Community service is part of the bedrock of the fraternity. Giving back to our community and doing all we can do to effect positive change is the fuel that drives us.  Being a ‘Christian based’ organization we always want to do what we believe would be acceptable and pleasing in God’s eyes.” says Philip Shotwell, Polemarch Columbus (OH) Alumni Chapter.”  

Initial effort: The ABCs of Safe Sleep

To combat these disturbing statistics the members of the Columbus Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity were joined by the Columbus Kappa Foundation, Molina Healthcare, AETNA, Buckeye Health, and CareSource, to sponsor a community informational on the ABCs of Safe Sleep the first Saturday in June.  The event was held at the King Art Complex.  The keynote address was delivered by Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. 33rd International Grand Polemarch, Thomas L. Battles.  Over 100 community members attended this event.  The event featured a panel moderated, and was organized under the direction of local Pediatrician Dr. Augustus Parker III who is a member of the fraternity.  Members of the panel included State Senator Charleta Tavares 15th District; House Minority Leader Hearcel F. Craig, Ohio Representative 26th District; Dr. Arthur James, MD ObGyn of Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center and Dorian Winguard of the Neighborhood House.  It also featured appearances by former OSU athletes turned community activist Maurice Clarett and Lawrence Funderburke who hosted a family financial seminar.

The results of the ABCs of Safe Sleep training were encouraging. Approximately 67 people were certified thru the workshops that day. The training was conducted by Dr. Stacy Scott, National Program Coordinator for Kappa Alpha Psi.  One of the surprise successes from the event included the door prizes that were given out to the public. The fraternity, in an attempt to assist parents in need, purchased over $1,500.00 worth of brand new baby items including baby clothes, diapers, portable sleeping pens, cribs,  strollers, educational toys and personal care products.

Establishing a precedent

In July The Columbus Kappa Foundation and The Columbus Area Integrated Health Services, Inc. (CAIHS) entered into a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).  The MOU will provide of services, education and outreach to African American men and their families in geographical areas where infant mortality is the highest and will facilitate the research and application of the science related to the brain and human behavior.

The MOU signed on July 19, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio and addresses the consequences of years of systematic marginalization and disparities that have caused many African American young people to underperform.  “This redefines our role as an institution as we embrace this emerging theory to address the reason why prevention and repair of traumatized or wounded individuals and families is needed,” said Anthony Penn, Executive Director and CEO of CAIHS. “What we have found is the problem is physiological as well as psychological. We want to know why a student is or is not excelling in the classroom. This is what is becoming known as the medical basis for many of our societal ills.”

Engaging African American men in the infant mortality high-risk hot zones – fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles and community stakeholders – with a focus on staying healthy, boosting educational performance and improving birth outcomes is central to this initiative being successful. This goal will be achieved through the Columbus Kappa Foundation’s Fatherhood Matters program in conjunction with other health and wellness initiatives.  “Impact in infant mortality in the African American and get engaged with the ‘Fathers’ to become more involved in the preventive education, understanding life and help them be men. Fathers have a responsibility to being with the child in the prenatal stage and importance of child 0-1yr that can determine the life outcome.” says Atty. Byron L. Potts, Chairman Columbus Kappa Foundation.

by Galen Robinson, Columbus Alumni Chapter, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity