TSD Memphis

Sat04192014

Business

‘United front’ against infant mortality gets September push

Envisioned as a movement, Celebrate Life Purple Sunday was designed to partner and align the faith based community with the Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative in the fight against infant mortality.  Two words – partner and align – are anchors in the Celebrate Life Purple Sunday initiative throughout the month of September.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, the Shelby County Office of Early Childhood & Youth’s Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative, All Babies Count, along with the faith-based community are hosts for the inaugural, month-long celebration in honor of National Infant Mortality Awareness Month.

Envisioned as a movement, Celebrate Life Purple Sunday was designed to partner and align the faith based community with the Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative in the fight against infant mortality. The objective is a united front to fight against infant mortality in the respective communities.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, the Shelby County Office of Early Childhood & Youth’s Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative, All Babies Count, along with the faith-based community will host an inaugural month long celebration of life in September in honor of National Infant Mortality Awareness Month.

According to organizers, collaborating with the faith-based community “excuses us from ignoring the suffering our families,” allowing for a voice that echoes the goal of loving, living and celebrating life.

In Shelby County, a baby dies every 43 hours – a rate higher than that of any other major city. With that sobering backdrop, the Celebrate Life Purple Sunday kickoff was held Aug. 13. Faith-based community representatives, already equipped to assist in the time of family crisis, were provided with additional resources to not only host the Celebrate Life Purple Sunday, but to create a faith-based education and awareness campaign, organize a grassroots community canvass or a “Celebrate Life” House Party to raise awareness.

“The infant mortality rate is an important measure of the wellbeing of infants, children and pregnant women because it is associated with a variety of factors such as maternal health, quality and access to medical care, socioeconomic conditions, and public health practices,” Nicole Gates, coordinator of the Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative said at the kick-off.

“The Celebrate Life Purple Sunday has the capacity to reach a very large group of people in one arena, allowing churches to adapt and embrace their own education and awareness campaign around infant mortality, which in turn creates a powerful community voice and attacks these identified areas.”

 Approximately 50 Memphis churches have committed to hosting events leading up to and including a Celebrate Life Purple Sunday.

The theme for Celebrate Life Purple Sunday is Psalm 127:3 – “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” During Sundays in the month of September leading up to the Celebrate Life Purple Sunday, churches have been encouraged to share “medical minutes” on preconception care, prenatal care, nutrition, prematurity, stress and infant safety to improve birth outcomes. The information needed was included in Celebrate Life Purple Sunday toolkits.

(Churches and faith-based organizations interested in partnering with the Shelby County Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative are encouraged to contact Nicole Gates at 901-385-4224 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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