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Philander Smith College Nursing Nook Opens
Little Rock, Ark. – Brittany Taylor became a mother in 2016. It wasn’t until she chose to breastfeed her child that Taylor, a student of Philander Smith College (PSC), realized there was no place for parents to breastfeed on campus.
“I am glad to say, in 2018, I helped establish the first Nursing Nook on the Philander Smith College campus geared toward offering a space to students and employees who are nursing,” said Taylor, who is the 2017-2018 Miss Philander Smith College and a Healthy Active Arkansas ambassador.
PSC collaborated with the Arkansas Department of Health, Healthy Active Arkansas and Sisters United to officially open the Nursing Nook on Tuesday in its Health and Wellness Center located in the M.L. Harris Building. Taylor spoke along with PSC President Roderick L. Smothers, Sr.; ADH Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Director Michelle R. Smith, PhD; HAA Worksite Wellness manager Kenya Eddings; and ADH Family Health Medical Director Dr. William Greenfield.
The Nursing Nook is the first free-standing room solely dedicated to nursing among Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the state.
When it comes to providing babies with the best nutrition, breastfeeding is not only economical; it has positive health effects for both baby and mom. Yet, Smith said there is a disparity in the breastfeeding rates between African-Americans and whites, according to Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) survey data.
“For example in Arkansas, the 2015 PRAMS survey found that 83 percent of white mothers reported that they breastfed compared to only 57 percent of African-American mothers,” Smith said. “This translates to fewer African-American babies receiving the nutrients needed for healthy brain development and biological milestones.”
Not only does breast milk offer a nutritionally balanced meal, it also reduces the risk for certain allergies, asthma and obesity in babies as well as Type 2 diabetes in moms. The lower rate of breastfeeding also contributes to a higher rate of infant mortality within the African-American community.
One way to reduce this disparity is to promote breastfeeding in the workplace and institutional settings, making it the norm.
Healthy Active Arkansas is a 10-year framework to increase the number of Arkansans at a healthy weight. There are nine priority areas, including breastfeeding that impact the health of the state. Sisters United is a community based initiative designed to increase public awareness and promote healthy behaviors aimed at reducing infant mortality among African-Americans. The initiative is a partnership among chapter members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta, and Sigma Gamma Rho.