It Takes a Village

It Takes a Village

By Keisha Walker

Administrator, Office of Early Childhood and Youth

Shelby County Government

A new year is a time of reflection and renewed commitment.  As I think back over the years, I am reminded of all the individuals who have had a hand in molding me into who I am today, my parents, grandparents, teachers, husband, and especially my children.  I remember when we brought our first child home from the hospital and thinking, “Oh my goodness, we are now responsible for another’s person’s life.  What have we done?”  We read all the books; we went to all of our prenatal appointments. We did everything that we knew to do to prepare for the arrival of our daughter, but new parents do not know everything.  I was nervous and scared, because all of sudden, we did not have the around the clock care of the hospital staff or the steady flow of visitors to lift our spirits and keep us encouraged.  We thought we wanted to bring our baby home to the quiet serenity of our home but the serenity quickly became insanity with the first uncontrollable cry.  I’ll let you guess who was doing the crying.  When the doorbell rang the next morning, it was our saving grace . . . my mother and grandparents.   Hearing their comforting words reassured me that we were not alone.  They got us through those first weeks, through our first year, and through every milestone thereafter.  As the African proverb goes, “It takes a village.”

This year let’s resolve to remember that “it takes a village” to reduce infant mortality from the smallest act of kindness towards an overwhelmed parent to using the power of collective action to change policy and practice in systems for the benefit of our families.  The Shelby County Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative will be implementing its new strategic plan with goals to further reduce the infant mortality rate especially among the African American community.  Disparities in the rates between African American babies and Caucasian babies are significant and solutions must span beyond health care and include race, poverty, unemployment, housing, and education.  It will be imperative that we resolve to get uncomfortable, ask the difficult questions, and commit to not doing business as usual.  Decisions cannot be made at the table with the usual suspects but must be inclusive of all persons within our community.  Changing conditions that have contributed to social norms is never an easy task but not impossible.  So, today I charge us to stay the course and “let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9 (NIV)


One response to “It Takes a Village

  1. Rhonda Ferguson-Wilkins

    I accept the charge to work diligently this year to be more involved in Our Village. You words are on target and I eagerly await the next steps to create change in Shelby County.


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