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"Breastfeeding: The Gold Standard" - April 12-13, 2007 Jackson, MS
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Brattleboro, Vermont
EVERY MOTHER, INC. applauds the creative breastfeeding promotion and support programs underway by local coalitions, WIC agencies, hospitals, and other groups building breastfeeding-friendly communities. Check the website each month to view a new spotlight promotion initiative to help ignite your own creative ideas for potential programming. If you have an idea to share, please contact us today!

In the charming town of Brattleboro in Southeastern Vermont, showcasing breastfeeding through art is becoming a cultural tradition, thanks to the creative energy and hard work of the local breastfeeding coalition and their talented partners.

Nestled along the Connecticut River valley amidst a hilly picturesque terrain, Brattleboro is a thriving arts community that has become a natural draw for artists and musicians seeking the year-round inspiration this scenic backdrop provides. Besides hosting many famous music, theater, and art events, Brattleboro is known as the original home for Peace Corps volunteers who came to learn about other cultures, and is perhaps best known for its counterculture communes in years past. In this cultural and artistic setting the community wide Gallery Walk has become a popular monthly attraction for locals and tourists alike.

Gallery Walk is known as “the” place to be on the first Friday of every month. Art exhibits of all kinds are displayed in almost 50 venues across the city, including art galleries, restaurants, and shops of every kind. Sidewalks are jammed as people of all ages make the stroll from shop to shop to soak in the works of local artists.

In 2003 the Brattleboro Breastfeeding Coalition decided to join the fun during August (for World Breastfeeding Week) and feature a unique collection entitled “The Art of Breastfeeding” at the famous Gallery Walk. After a successful debut, Catherine Dianich Gruver, a local art curator and former breastfeeding counselor, joined the coalition's efforts to lend her expertise and breastfeeding passion for what has now become an annual event. Catherine now collaborates with Dede Cummings, a local public relations specialist, to help choose the art and print posters.

As part of the event, the coalition sponsors a Nurse Out just before the Gallery Walk. The event provides breastfeeding women with an opportunity to share together the ways breastfeeding has changed their lives and to give mutual support. The artwork is up for the entire month of August for ongoing viewing, and features artwork from Vermont and other regional artists, including stunning photographs, oil and watercolor paintings, clay sculptures, and a variety of other types of artwork celebrating breastfeeding.

Reaction to the breastfeeding art exhibit and activities has been overwhelmingly positive according to Dawn Kersula, a member of the coalition. “Brattleboro Memorial Hospital has been tremendously supportive and the community is wholeheartedly behind it as well,” she says. “It’s wonderful to listen in on conversations between kids and parents, teen and teen. We always put up a large poster where people can write their comments, and most often they are along the lines of, ‘Love it!’ or ‘I was breastfed!’”

If your community does not provide a comparable cultural event, Dawn suggests you set up your own breastfeeding art event using a local business, hospital, or other community location as your exhibit setting.

To learn more, contact:

Dawn Kersula MA, RN, IBCLC at DKersula@bmhvt.org
Ellen Forsythe at EForsyt@vdh.state.vt.us

Direct curator questions to Catherine Dianich Gruver at diangruv@aol.com
For more about the Gallery Walk: http://www.gallerywalk.org/

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