William & Mary

Healthy Beginnings receives March of Dimes grant

The William & Mary Healthy Beginnings Project has received a $12,000, one-year grant from the March of Dimes to offer Baby Basics Moms Clubs to pregnant, incarcerated women.

The new clubs, which will be established in Henrico Jail, Riverside Regional Jail and Hampton Roads Regional Jail, will offer participants a chance to learn in a group setting about a variety of topics, including nutrition and relationships.

The Baby Basic Moms Club (BBMC) is a free program offered at locations throughout the Commonwealth by the 'Before Baby' Moms Club of Virginia and community partners. The clubs supported by the W&M Healthy Beginnings Project (WMHBP) will be the first offered in Virginia jails.

“We are thrilled to have the support of the March of Dimes and to offer a more comprehensive curriculum to our participants, we are especially pleased to offer referrals to our participants to other BBMCs throughout Virginia so that they can continue with the program after they are released from jail,” said Danielle Dallaire, principal investigator of the Healthy Beginnings Project.

The March of Dimes grant builds on work that the W&M Healthy Beginnings Project, led by Dallaire and Co-Principal Investigator Cathy Forestell, has been doing since 2012, providing pregnancy tests, prenatal vitamins, nutritional counseling, referrals and postpartum support to women in jails throughout southeast Virginia.

The Baby Basics Moms Club, led by trained facilitators, will offer WMHBP participants a more inclusive educational curriculum, focusing on six core areas: safe sleep, pre-term births, nutrition, depression, relationships and substance abuse. Participants will also receive information about financial health and regional services, such as the Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) and Medicaid.

Because of the network of clubs throughout Virginia, incarcerated participants will be able to join other clubs once they are released and receive continued support, something the Healthy Beginnings Project has only been able to do in a limited capacity in the past, said Forestell.

The W&M Healthy Beginnings Project seeks to support healthy pregnancies and healthy babies by promoting healthy behaviors, education, awareness and empowerment. Its vision is to create a new, healthy beginning for both mother and child.

The mission of the March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. The organization helps moms have full-term pregnancies and research the problems that threaten the health of babies. In local communities across the country, it's helping moms take charge of their health and supporting families when something goes wrong. The March of Dimes also acts globally: sharing best practices in perinatal health and helping improve birth outcomes where the needs are the most urgent.

To learn more about the March of Dimes or participate in the 2015 Williamsburg March for Babies on Saturday, May 16, please contact Nicole Burn at (757)383-8819 or nburn@marchofdimes.org.