Across North America, systemic racism is a significant factor impacting pregnancy outcomes of Indigenous, Black, and People of Color and their babies. From structural or institutionalized racism to interpersonal racism and internalized racism, there must be meaningful change to ensure better health outcomes.
With the need for essential necessities for vulnerable BIPOC mothers in Ontario, Christina, a Research Assistant at the Peer Medical Foundation created customizable Baby Box Baskets for individuals & families in the Greater Toronto Area.
The project was born after seeing first-hand the difficulties faced by vulnerable families at a High-Risk clinic, part of a hospital in Mississauga Ontario where she was working. It was here, that mothers spoke to her about supplies that they needed and informed her about the challenges they faced, unable to make their follow-up appointments (they could not afford for someone to drive them nor could they take public transit with their baby). With little to no spare money from their own savings and a lack of support as new mothers, these challenges made it increasingly more difficult for them to call Canada home.
Christina, inspired by the Peer Med Impact Committee’s previous projects was compelled to act upon this need, however, she lacked the tools to implement the project. That was when she received guidance from the Peer Medical Foundation and was soon the recipient of the #RisingYouth Community Service grant. Joining the Peer Med Impact Committee, she was provided with the knowledge, tools, and resources to transform this project into action for pregnant youth in her community. With mentorship and guidance from Peer Med Impact, Baby Box Baskets were created to support High-Risk Clinics, and birth centers that interacted with vulnerable populations. These boxes included baby wipes, diapers, formula, blankets, and bottles for new parents. Additionally, there were 25$ UBER gift cards included inside handwritten cards with words of support and encouragement to new parents.
More importantly, she adds “The Vita Centre provides assistance to more than 600 pregnant and parenting youth between the ages of 15 and 30 in Peel Region. Through its various counseling and youth-centered programs, clients are able to make positive decisions for themselves and their children, are connected to community resources, helped to complete their education, attend parenting classes, and are even provided with tangible supplies to help them with their parenting journey.”
On June 1st, 2022, the Baby Box Baskets were donated to Vita Centre and Birthright Brampton, small family planning charity organizations in the Mississauga/Brampton area. After receiving funding from the RisingYouth community service grant, Christina spent weeks brainstorming how to best build the boxes while also enriching her awareness of the difficulties faced by this vulnerable population. Christina, a bioethics student says “Visiting these places of gestation support and comfort for mothers has been very rewarding, especially knowing that the staff and people providing the support are looking at helping youth, young parents, and immigrants navigate their lives in Canada.”
Each organization educated Christina and us, at the Peer Medical Foundation about the problems faced by pregnant populations, their work to mitigate them, and ways that we can continue working together. “Seeing these youth in their different communities representing the diversity of mothers made me realize that they had found a home at places like the Vita Centre and Birthright Brampton. They were more than just centers of support: they were their new homes where they had found people so they could rely on and a place where they could build a future and hope for more,” says Christina.
At the Peer Medical Foundation, we are delighted to have made a difference in the lives of these pregnant youth and vulnerable families, to have improved their health & well-being a little, and to have provided basic necessities to brace for a pandemic during their lives as new mothers in Canada. We are always looking at future opportunities to give back to the local communities in need, especially as we strive to support patients wherever they are and those who may be even more vulnerable during these challenging times.