Leadership in West Lane
Teresa LaNasa, Co-Chair
Suzanne Mann-Heintz, Co-Chair
Jeanne Shannon, Coordinator
Our Work in West Lane
The West Lane 90by30 Regional Leadership Team is made up of more than a dozen volunteers who live or work in communities like Florence, Mapleton, and Deadwood. They have been responsible for guiding 90by30 through the prevention planning process in the region, collecting 200 surveys to gauge their neighbor's attitudes and feelings about preventing child abuse, then going through a rigorous asset mapping process that surveyed the area for gaps in services and resources that help families thrive. The West Lane Child Abuse Prevention plan was designed to fill these gaps, to offer children and parents the resources they need to be successful. So what were the strategies the team chose to fulfill that purpose?
The Welcome Baby Box
In 2018, West Lane became just the second region in the county to launch the Welcome Baby Box (WBB) program. This gift to newborns and their families provides provides all expectant parents in West Lane with a "baby box" Smitten Sleep System that can actually be used as a crib for the infant. It is filled with essential items for babies (e.g. bedding, clothing, informational books, toys). Parents also receive a Resource Binder filled with valuable information about local organizations that not only serve parents and families in an official capacity but provide community connections that decrease the isolation that can come with being a new parent. A key part of the WBB is a video called "The Period of PURPLE Crying," which helps normalize infant crying and decrease parental frustration. Crying is part of normal infant development, and the video aims to reduce "shaken baby syndrome" by letting parents know that this sort of crying is okay - that almost every baby goes through it.
To date, West Lane volunteers have made 25 home visits to deliver Welcome Baby Boxes, and more are scheduled. A generous $4,000 grant from the Western Lane Community Foundation helped kick off the effort, and 90by30 is partnering with Peace Harbor Hospital to include WBB invitations in the information packets given to expectant families. Collaboration with other nonprofit organizations has also helped spread the word about the Baby Box. The program is off to a great start, with parents expressing gratitude for the home visit, supplies, information, and support they receive. There is nothing like a one-on-one conversation with a WBB delivery volunteer to let a parent know the community is invested in the health of their baby and cares about their whole family. with recipients being very grateful for the home visit and the supplies, information, and support that they receive.
Roots of Empathy
2018 was a busy year! The team also kicked off a pilot of Roots of Empathy (ROE), a school-based program in which a parent and infant (accompanied by a trained ROE facilitator) visit a first-grade classroom throughout the school year. Research has shown that, when students interact with the infant and use their experiences with the baby to answer questions like "Why do you think Baby Wilson is upset?" and "What do you do when you're upset?," they develop the empathy, tolerance, and compassion that will help them become good citizens and good parents. ROE is currently in four Siuslaw School District first-grade classes, and in one in the Mapleton School District. All students are very excited about "their baby" and about watching it grow and learn. The parents, teachers and volunteer instructors are also all enthusiastic about the program and its potential to unite communities. The Siuslaw News highlighted the program in two extensive articles, one of which explored the program's impact on Mapleton in particular, where the community recently experienced tragedies that tooks several lives. From the article, called "Baby Steps":
In a community emotionally drained, the recent welcoming of a program which increases children’s base level of emotional literacy provides some respite from the sadness. Not only a boost for morale, [Mapleton School District Superintendent Jodi] O’Mara sees it as an opportunity to strengthen communal coping mechanisms.
“While many of the events that happened were not preventable, I think Roots of Empathy gives our kids — and hopefully eventually our community — the skills to help work through those and have conversations face to face and have a little deeper understanding and caring,” she said. “I think that’s the key: how people — students, and then from students it goes up to adults — cope with the grief and the loss and the tragedy.”
The West Lane Team plans to expand Roots of Empathy to all elementary schools in the area and deliver this program for years to come, touching the lives of generations of children who will then grow up to be more empathetic and caring parents themselves. Initial costs in Mapleton were partially covered by a $1,000 from Mapleton Community Foundation, and the team is grateful for the community support and the ongoing enthusiasm of West Lane residents.
West Lane plans to implement two additional programs in 2019. 40 Developmental Assets is a framework of support that promotes healthy child development. This strategy from the Search Institute identifies 40 positive supports and strengths that young people need to succeed. Half of these positive "assets" are external, focusing on the relationships and opportunities youth need in their families, schools, and communities. The other half are “nternal and foster the social-emotional strengths, values, and commitments that healthy kids and teens develop from within. Our second project, Foster Grandparents, is a mentorship program that connects children to “grandparents” (age 55 and older), who provide an additional layer of support during the critical developmental years of childhood and adolescence. This strategy is perfect for West Lane, since it has a large retired population that the team hopes will join this effort.
How You Can Get Involved
90by30's presence in West Lane is sustained by volunteers. If you have a passion for keeping children safe and creating communities that nurture all kids and families, we invite you to join the Regional Leadership Team, which meets monthly for decision-making and guidance of our local activities. There are also opportunities to join one of the smaller workgroups, such as the Welcome Baby Box Team or the CAPM Team, the group that plans annual activities for April's Child Abuse Prevention Month.
West Lane is fortunate to receive donations from generous individuals in order to help us fund our projects. If you wish to contribute financially, we value every gift, whether large or small.
We are very excited and dedicated to do all we can to help prevent child abuse in West Lane. We welcome your input, your involvement, your presence - we welcome you to this fantastic team of people making a difference in Lane County.
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