Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Nursing Mothers Counsel WBW Awards Luncheon

Today the Nursing Mothers Counsel of Oregon hosted a luncheon to celebrate our state as a leader in breastfeeding promotion and highlight what is left to be done to improve the long and short term health of Oregonians by increasing breastfeeding rates. Awards to important contributors to Oregon’s breastfeeding promotion efforts were presented at the luncheon as well. I was honored at the luncheon as an award recipient, but rather than just toot my own horn, I want to tell you about the work all the other award recipients have done to support, protect, and promote breastfeeding in Oregon this year as well. What a list of accomplishments:

Media Matters for Breastfeeding Mothers Award
KATU News featured three recent breastfeeding stories by Shellie Bailey-Shah and further supported breastfeeding through a morning segment after the launch of the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign.

KGW News supported breastfeeding by highlighting the roll of breastfeeding support in Fit Pregnany Magazine's survey results which declared Portland the #1 city to have a baby.

Breastfeeding Champion Award
Oregon State Nutrition and Health Screening Program for Women, Infant and Children (WIC) was commended for its long-term, multi-faceted approach to breastfeeding support, promotion and protection. Oregon State WIC was among the first in the nation to use food dollars to purchase and distribute breastpumps instead of infant formula, and to send Nutrition Leads to Lactation Educator training.

Breastfeeding Mother Friendly Employer Award
Oregon Health Science University has the distinction of being the largest employer in the state to earn a designation as a DHS Breastfeeding Mother-Friendly Employer.

New Seasons Market has the distinction of being the first grocery store and the first chain to earn the DHS Breastfeeding Mother-Friendly Employer designation. The company's policy is exemplary and sets a high bar for multiplicity at several retail sites. The company also has a commitment to supporting breastfeeding mothers in their stores.

Legislative Legacy Awards
There are three women who share principal responsibility for Oregon's legislative legacy in breastfeeding support and protection: Martha Johnson, RN, IBCLC; Dixie Whetsell, MS, IBCLC; and NMC volunteer lobbyist, Diane Garrett. Martha and Dixie are the co-authors of many successive versions of workplace accommodation legislation. They have brought drafts of the bill before the legislature since 1999. Through the efforts of Diane, the Oregon State Legislature passed SB 618, a bill encouraging employers to accommodate breastfeeding employees.

The Voice for the Mothers Award
I was incredibly honored to accept this Nursing Mothers Counsel award, which reads:
In Celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, August 2006, Nursing Mothers Counsel of Oregon presents the Voice for Mothers award to Chris Musser, for transforming a personally challenging situation into a catalyst for empowerment, from one mother to others. Though you dubbed yourself the "Reluctant Lactivist," you quickly became a highly effective one, launching Mom's Milk Anywhere for the support and protection of breastfeeding in public as SB 744 ensures.
There are so many people who deserve credit for enabling me to stand up for myself, my children, and mothers and children everywhere who want to nurse in peace. I don't know what I would have done without my brilliant and impassioned friend Chrissy Gardiner, whose support, outrage, and ideas have fueled me throughout this experience. Creating a social support group for nursing moms was Chrissy's idea...I honestly don't think that big on my own. Chrissy and my other NE Knitting Mom friends, especially Alenna, Brittney, and Sally, spent many Monday evenings listening, advising, and encouraging me as I went from feeling humiliated and ashamed to empowered and activated. They are the core organizers of MomMA. While I was still deciding whether or not to do anything about my humiliating experience at Fred Meyer, I called the Nursing Mothers Counsel help line and received the encouragement and direction I needed to stand up for myself and be a voice for mothers who have suffered in silence after being harassed for nursing in public. I also want to thank my husband Mike for his continued and enthusiastic support. He's a devoted and wonderful husband and father who has helped me stay true to myself and my ideals as I navigated through an exciting and challenging time. Finally, I want to say how much I appreciate all of you who have written to me with support and encouragement. Reading your kind words, knowing that so many people out their get it and appreciate the importance of celebrating, not humiliating, mothers who nurse in public, has helped keep me going even when the negative, uninformed commentary of others dragged me down. Thank you. Please keep up the good work. It's such a boost.

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