MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee has an alarming mortality rate when it comes to infant deaths. On average, 100 Milwaukee infants a year die before their first birthdays. The government and Ascension Fellowship Church are coming together to combat that.
"What the Strong Baby Sabbath allows us to do is rekindle our roots of caring," said Pastor Marvin Spence, Ascension Fellowship Church.
Pastor Marvin Spence is one of the several church leaders taking part in Strong Baby Sabbath.
"Through this campaign we want to get into contact with parents who say I made this happen in my life and I want it better for my child," said Pastor Spence.
The 5th annual event focused on the top two most preventable causes of infant deaths in Milwaukee -- premature births and unsafe sleeping environments.
"The life conditions really play a major role in determining and having an impact on infant mortality," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
Mayor Barrett is heading up the collaboration with the faith community and Columbia St. Mary's. The goal is to reduce Milwaukee's overall infant mortality rate by 10%, and the African American infant mortality rate by 15%, by 2017.
This will be done by connecting the community in several ways.
"Make sure women have access to quality healthcare and the second is lifestyle choices that people make themselves, safe sleeping making sure people aren't smoking," said Barrett.
In addition to the nurturing support, the hospital has provided sanctuaries with critical items, such as a pack 'n plays, food and clothing to facilitate strong babies.
"Strong babies can have strong parents. Strong parents make strong communities. Strong communities make the world a better place to live," said Pastor Spence.
Ascension Fellowship Church is one of ten Strong Baby Sanctuaries. Eventually, 50 sanctuaries will open across the city -- all part of the community wide effort.
Below is a list of churches that are Strong Baby Sanctuaries:
- Ascension Fellowship Church: 5700 W. Greentree Road, Milwaukee
- Bradford Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church: 4260 N. Teutonia Avenue, Milwaukee
- Canaan Baptist Church: 2975 N. 11th Street
- Ebenezer Church of God in Christ: 3132 N. MLK Drive, Milwaukee
- Hephatha Lutheran Church: 1720 W. Locust, Milwaukee
- Holy Cathedral Church of God in Christ: 2677 N. 40th Street, Milwaukee
- Capuchin Community Services-House of Peace: 1702 W. Walnut Street, Milwaukee
- True Love Missionary Baptist Church: 210 W. Keefe Avenue, Milwaukee
- Unity Gospel House of Prayer Apostolic Church: 1747 N. 12th Street, Milwaukee
- Village Ministry Inc. : 2614 W. Center Street, Milwaukee