SOUTH CHICAGO — A birth center planned for the South Side is hosting a free “block party” this weekend to celebrate Black Breastfeeding Week.
The second annual Latch and Stroll is 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at Russell Square Park, 3045 E. 83rd St. in South Chicago. The event, hosted by the Chicago South Side Birth Center, works to de-stigmatize public breastfeeding while providing health resources and food.
“Black women and birthing people have the lowest initiation rates and the lowest duration rates for breastfeeding,” said Jeanine Logan, founder and lead steward of the Chicago South Side Birth Center.
That’s true even as the practice can “contribute to the health and well-being” of newborns, infants and even the parent, said Logan, a certified nurse midwife.
Sista Afya, a South Shore-based mental health center for Black women, will offer mental health resources at the Latch and Stroll. Other groups will offer reiki, acupuncture, massage and other practices in the event’s “healing grove.” There will also be a “huge kids area” with family-friendly activities, Logan said.
“This year, we have 25 partners that will be offering services, from other birth centers to community health centers and programming for young people around health and wellness,” Logan said.
Local chefs and food trucks will serve free food, including vegan options. Justice Cream will provide free treats; the non-dairy ice cream company donates all profits to grassroots groups like the Chicago Torture Justice Center and the Chi-Nations Youth Council.
To register for the free event, click here. Neighbors can also attend without registering online, Logan said. Volunteers can get involved with the event by emailing Shaquan@chicagosouthsidebirthcenter.org.
Organizers are preparing for about 200 attendees, and they expect people to stop by from a back-to-school event also at Russell Square Park Saturday, Logan said.
The Chicago South Side Birth Center aims to open in 2025 as the Southeast Side’s first free-standing birth center. The nonprofit intends to buy the center’s future home next year: a building across from Russell Square Park at 83rd Street and South Shore Drive, Logan said.
Though Saturday’s Latch and Stroll is a celebration of breastfeeding, the event — and the future birth center — will also “provide care for folks who are not interested in a baby or who don’t have a baby,” Logan said.
The center will provide family planning services, testing for sexually transmitted infections, community-led support groups around certain health care issues and more, she said.
Space in the center will also be reserved for use by local partners like the healthcare service providers at the Latch and Stroll event, and it will also include a community room for neighbors to rent and host workshops and other events, Logan said.
The birth center will not only bring more healthcare resources into South Chicago, but can give a boost to the providers already operating in the community and nearby, Logan said.
“A lot of times we’ll talk about disparities or lack of access or hospital closures, but there’s still so much valuable community care that is happening that people don’t know about,” Logan said. “We’re always going to continue to take care of ourselves, no matter what institutions do and no matter what resources are divesting in us.”
The birth center was in the works for years before getting a boost from philanthropy group Chicago Beyond, Logan told Block Club last year. The group will provide financial and organizational support to Logan for three years through the Leadership Venture program, she said.
Chicago Beyond has been “instrumental in moving us this far,” Logan said. She’s about halfway through her term as a “leader in residence” and is excited for “what the next year and a half will bring us” as she plans and develops the center full-time through the program, she said.
The birth center is fundraising to build and develop the permanent location. To donate to the fundraising drive, click here. The center raised about $36,000 of its $406,000 goal as of Tuesday afternoon.
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