CHARLESTON, W.Va. — First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin says she hopes the Our Babies: Safe and Sound program in West Virginia will continue to make significant strides after she leaves office.
Currently, 21 out of 27 West Virginia hospitals administer the program to help reduce and prevent infant sleep-related deaths.
“I plan to be involved with it over the next year as the remaining six hospitals come on board, so all of our birthing hospitals in West Virginia will be doing the program,” Jaeger Tomblin said after hosting her final event for the program as the First Lady. She introduced the program in 2011.
On Thursday, the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program presented a $55,500 grant to the Our Babies: Safe and Sound initiative, which is a project of TEAM West Virginia Children.
The grant will help expand the educational program Say YES to Safe Sleep for Babies in state hospitals.
“They will be able to expand the program to pediatricians in their offices as well as child care centers and even grandparents who take care of babies,” the First Lady said.
Last year, Jaeger Tomblin toured state hospitals to talk with doctors and parents about ways to protect infants.
“One infant death is too many in West Virginia,” she said. “Our children are our most important asset in West Virginia. As many babies as we can keep healthy and safe and have a good start is both important to the Governor and to me.”
Becky King, co-coordinator of the Our Babies: Safe and Sound program, said every 10 days a West Virginia baby dies due to unsafe sleeping environments and practices.
“Those deaths, most often are preventable, but they’re unintentional. They’re accidents,” King told MetroNews.
Parents can follow the “ABC’s” of infant safe sleep, King said. “A” means your baby should Always sleep alone, “B” means place your baby on his or her Back for every bed time or nap time and “C” means placing your baby in a safe Crib.
King said the First Lady has been a “wonderful ambassador” to the program and hopes the Justice administration will continue the expansion.
“She has brought a lot of visibility to our program,” King said. “She has really brought a lot of awareness and brought our program a long way.”
Walmart is the first corporate sponsor of the Our Babies: Safe and Sound program.