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Thank You, Walkers!

From: LEAVEN, Vol. 35 No. 5, October-November 1999, p. 120

Thank you to the thousands of breastfeeding families, friends, and health care professionals around the world who participated and will participate in the World Walk for Breastfeeding. Because of your participation perhaps a pregnant woman in your town learned that there is a Group to which she can go for information and support; perhaps a health care professional several cities away was made aware of available breastfeeding information; or perhaps a Leader halfway across the globe was able to read more about breastfeeding in her own language. Certainly many people were impressed by your beautiful and healthy babies and children. The World Walk serves the unique purpose of informing the world about the benefits of breastfeeding to mother and child and providing funds so that the excellent information and support of La Leche League can continue. At the same time, for many it provided the opportunity to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week with fun and festivities.

The LLLI Staff and their families and friends held a World Walk on August 4. Kim Cavaliero, LLLI's Public Relations Director, says:

We were very fortunate; we had a tremendous day for our Walk. It was sunny and warm, but a little breezy. We began with a presentation by Paulina Allen de Smith, LLLI's Executive Director. She thanked everyone for coming and explained how happy and proud she was to see everyone together to celebrate breastfeeding. We were also fortunate to be joined by James Akre, from the World Heath Organization, who spoke briefly of the importance of World Breastfeeding Week and LLLI. Our "decoration station" was posted in front of the building where moms could take their strollers or wagons and have them decorated for the Walk.

We began the Walk around the building accompanied by Paulina, Mr. Akre, staff members, local Leaders, families, friends, mothers, and babies. Once the Walk was over, we had a potluck lunch and barbecue. After lunch, we had face painting by our graphic artist, Jean Marie, games and prizes by the LLLI Walk Committee, and a clown named Pancakes, sponsored with the help of our Marketing Department, by iparenting.com. The highlight of the day was the children taking turns at the pinata and reaping the rewards when it finally was opened. More than 150 people attended, making this the largest Walk at LLLI so far.

A quick look at the LLLI website and its virtual World Walk shows us that Groups find diverse ways of celebrating and informing the world about the benefits of breastfeeding. Where do Groups walk? Air-conditioned malls, sandy beaches, great-wooded trails, paved paths, around buildings, Rattray Marsh Trail along Lake Ontario in Canada, athletic tracks, around the parkway, around the park, through the plaza, within other parades, along lakes and rivers, and through the neighborhoods. The Ammonoosuc Valley Group from New Hampshire USA even walked across the Ammonoosuc River on America's oldest covered bridge and in a pouring rain with "wet balloons, singing wet songs." The Syracuse New York USA Group held two Walks in one day!

Where did the walkers meet? At the beginning of trails, at a state Conference, by the swimming pool, by the playground equipment, at the duck pond, near the children's museum, and at restaurants. The Denver, Colorado, USA Group met at the amphitheater and ended at the east steps of the state Capitol building where a special breastfeeding promotion event was held with Mary Ann Kerwin, LLLI Founder and Marianne Neifert, MD, LLLI Health Advisory Council member.

How did Groups celebrate? After-walk swim parties, holding children's events including face-painting, games and prizes, clowns, decorated strollers, certificates for all breastfeeding mothers, family fiestas, door prizes and raffles, silent auctions, crafts, celebrity story tellers, banners, socializing, music and even dancing. The Guelph Ontario Canada Group plans a "free barbecue and very cool prizes donated by generous community sponsors" and "are very excited to have music performed by the Funky Mamas, a local collective of women who (inspired by their children) create fun through the sounds of children's music." The Pretoria South Africa Group "joined the Pretoria NewsTeddy Bear's Picnic for a day of fun with stalls, competitions and a concert. Our stall sold books, stings and playdough."

What did the walkers eat? Potluck dinners and lunches, bring-your-own lunches, donated pizza, summer snacks and desserts, snacks-to-share, covered-dish luncheons, and in Vermillion South Dakota, USA, a brunch sponsored by two local grocery stores.

How did Groups use the World Walk to inform people about breastfeeding? Guest speakers, chalk drawings on sidewalks illustrating breastfeeding facts, participation in health fairs, couples meetings, interactive displays, and a combination Maternity Faire/World Walk for Breastfeeding. In Azores, Portugal, they held information displays at various locations around their community during World Breastfeeding Week. "Passersby will be able to read information about the Walk, breastfeeding, and mothering through breastfeeding." After the Memphis, Tennessee, USA, Group held their Walk, they hosted an information table at a Border's Bookstore where they were given 15% of purchases when LLL was mentioned. The Billingham and Watcom, Washington, USA, Groups held their World Walks and then joined the Watcom County Lactation Task Force at a community outreach fair where they displayed books and pictures of nursing babies as well as gave out information sheets.

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