NC Breastfeeding Coalition looks to boost Cherokee Community

by Nov 15, 2019NEWS ka-no-he-da





A new grant project is looking to bring on part-time peer supporters to assist the breastfeeding community in Cherokee.

The Transforming Clinics for Better Breastfeeding Outcomes Grant is in a yearlong initiative that plans into increase resources and education of breastfeeding in the area. The grant is being operated through the North Carolina Breast Feeding Coalition.

Brandi Harrison, the regional grant coordinator for the project, is responsible for helping implement the program in to the local community.

“It’s a very exciting program, it’s very evidence-based,” said Harrison.  “This type of program was also done in Wilmington last year. This is a two-year grant. So, year one was in Wilmington and it was highly successful there. Very good reception from the community, very good support. A lot of good breastfeeding outcomes there.”

She says that the Wilmington program focused on the local African-American community and fostered great results, and that this grant project is geared to help communities that need the services.

For the second year of the grant in western North Carolina, the Coalition has chosen to focus on Cherokee and work directly with the Cherokee Indian Hospital.

“There are some health disparities that exist among the Cherokee population,” Harrison noted.  “We know that it can be an underserved population in terms of some health disparities. And, the social determinacies of health within the Cherokee population tell us that we need to focus on some grassroots initiatives.”

She also says that they learned from the first year of operation, and that there is more to the work than meets the eye. She says that even the name of the grant doesn’t fully do the program justice.

“I don’t’ think that quite encompasses everything that the grant is doing in year two here in Western North Carolina, because we’ve made some special arrangements with the doula aspect of things.”

Harrison, who is an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLA) and a trained doula, says that she will also be used as a reference to the hired peer supporters. She says a strong network and communication is extremely important through the process.

“I think that breastfeeding is a misunderstood concept, often times it’s thought of as a very natural process and something that should be easy. I think a lot of people think it should be easy. But the reality is that we live in bottle-feeding culture. As Americans, we have a pretty good breast-feeding rate, because the CDC has taken upon themselves to promote breastfeeding more now than they ever have in the last 100 years. We have a lot of initiatives and grant projects going on to improve those.”

The Coalition will take applications for the peer supporter positions until November 20. Harrison says those selected will not be embedded at the hospitals, and instead will often be working from home as well as running support groups.

“We’re looking to recruit good candidates from the community who are enrolled members, who are interested in supporting other mommas in their breastfeeding journey. We would love to pay for them to be trained and to give them a platform to function off of, and to jump from and create change in the community.”

You can find the application and anymore information regarding the position at