The Watts Healthcare Corporation Inc. (WHCC) has secured a $50,000 grant with the help of Congresswoman Linda Sánchez to underwrite the Babies Natural Start Project, designed to improve breastfeeding rates among low income, at-risk women in the Watts/Willowbrook communities.

The program will focus on reducing the breast feeding disparity rate among African Americans.
Rep. Sánchez secured $250,000 in federal funds for the breastfeeding project. “This is great news for the Watts/Willowbrook Communities,” said Rep. Sánchez, “I believe this innovative program is a model for improving breastfeeding rates in communities of color throughout the state and the nation.”

William Hobson, CEO of WHCC, said, “This is unprecedented. I’m thrilled that our organization, through Congresswoman Sánchez, now has funds dedicated to address this issue. Special thanks to Rep. Sánchez for her leadership.

“Our staff, who identified low breastfeeding rates as a health education need, has designed this project with proven strategies that can improve the health and well-being of infants and families in our communities.”

The funds Sánchez secured will allow WHCC, using a collaborative approach, to spread a successful breastfeeding best practice model used in the WIC Program to patients in other departments.

Debra Keyes, director of the MCH/WIC Program for WHCC, will administer the project. “I’m excited; these funds will enable us to expand our best practices to more patients/clients, specifically African Americans; and to conduct targeted provider training so that we are all giving a consistent message to our families that ‘breastfeeding is best’.”

Keyes has already hired new staff, and is working with the program’s selected community partners–the Los Angeles Best Babies Network, and the Breastfeeding Taskforce of Greater Los Angeles.

Kim Durdin, a lactation consultant with the project said, “Encouraging more mothers to breastfeed creates better health for themselves, their children, their family, and thus the community at large.”

Breastfeeding is the most natural source of nourishment and security for infants. Studies have shown that exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months helps protect a child’s health. In fact, breastfed babies have a considerably lower risk for diarrhea/constipation, SIDS, asthma, allergies, and obesity.

Unfortunately, significant disparities for exclusive breastfeeding exist among communities of color. The “Babies Natural Start” project is designd to support and improve breastfeeding rates among under-served women, particularly African American mothers seeking care at WHC and residing in the Watts/Willowbrook communities.

For more information, please contact the “Babies Natural Start” project at (323) 564-4331.
Watts Healthcare Corporation Inc. (WHCC) is a licensed private non-profit community clinic that provides a broad spectrum of health care services to residents of South Los Angeles. Watts Health Center is headquarters for the medical and administrative services of WHCC.