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CALIFORNIA WIC ASSOCIATION

Statewide Public Education: Breastfeeding A Community Health Issue – Rebranding the Dialogue

While the California WIC Association worked to promote the value of breastfeeding to the public, it also needed to educate local and statewide health care organizations and policy leaders. They needed to grow support for this issue and potentially drive policy changes throughout the State.  This would mean that local breastfeeding advocates, health care stakeholders and policy folks would need to learn more about this issue and come on board to support any education or policy movement.

To begin this process, BP3 suggested the need to reframe the overall breastfeeding messaging.  Instead of focusing on the benefits that baby and mother receive as individuals, seeing the topic as vital to the overall health of the community and positive in its impact in on breaking down health disparities.

Objectives:

  • Improve the understanding and awareness of breastfeeding as not just a mother’s issue but a policy matter, creating an atmosphere where legislators and stakeholders can have a relevant dialogue about improvements in breastfeeding policy that can have positive societal and health impacts on California
  • Get California to adopt strong, new policies that allow for a woman to more successfully reach her goal of successfully (and exclusively) breastfeeding her child
  • Educate regarding the benefits of breastfeeding for mother, baby and community as a whole

Method:

To raise awareness of this issue, we spent time reframing it so it could be clearly seen as a policy matter of utmost importance. This enabled us to lay the ground work for a policy push in 2011.
California WIC Association Educational Outreach via Fotonovelas 
In support of the effort overall, we created a series of educational and outreach fotonovelas covering a range of topics surrounding the subject:  from learning as a new mother to re-entering the work force.

To increase media awareness of this issue and encourage their cover of it and our activities, we conducted a series of events to help spread our message.  The events served to generate “buzz” across the state and drive our global themes while leveraging local issues, impact and perspectives.  Our first event was a Policy Briefing at the State Capitol to educate legislators and their staffers on how policy reforms can improve health equity across the state for mothers and their children.

We then held a series of breastfeeding forums across the state to help drive the issue further in local markets.  These forums brought together legislators and their staffers, hospital administrators, advocates, community members and local media.

To promote the release of California WIC Association’s Breastfeeding Hospital Report and solidify this as a matter needing improvement, we created an army of advocates, families and stakeholders to help deliver our message and put a face to this issue. Through this effort we conducted several media trainings for our key partners and advocates, in addition to creating messaging and materials.

Results:

BP3 successfully developed a new framework for the breastfeeding issue and continues to work with breastfeeding advocates across the state to implement this new approach.  We were successful in driving multiple forums in key targeted areas of the state as well as a special legislative and staffer briefing at the Capitol.  These events were well-attended and have been instrumental in helping to create a group of advocates that are ready to take this message to their local community and assist in the next wave of breastfeeding awareness and driving the necessary policy to enhance the percentage of mothers that breastfeed.

Through our efforts, BP3 was able to create buzz and garner media coverage in major markets across the state on this important issue.  Notables included:

  • Sacramento Bee
  • San Diego Union Tribune
  • NPR – San Diego and LA
  • San Jose Mercury
  • Santa Cruz Sentinel
  • Stockton Record
  • Daily Breeze – Torrance
  • Fresno Bee
  • Univisión – San Diego affiliate
  • Radio Bilingue – Statewide
  • Vida en el Valle – Fresno​