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Sister Friend group sets out to combat mortality rate amongst black babies in Leon County

In Leon County the mortality rate for black babies is twice as high as white babies
Posted at 3:44 PM, Mar 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-03 18:12:01-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — "The racial disparity gap in the births or birth outcomes has been around for quite a while," said Chris Szorcsik, executive director for Capital Area Healthy Start Coalition.

In 2021 in Leon County there were 34 infant deaths. 20 of which were Black, 10 were white. The mortality rate for black babies is higher due to the many issues that black women face when it comes to getting healthcare, according to the Capital Area Healthy Start Coalition.

Szorcsik said they have a plan that could change all of that.

"We go about fixing that by wrapping our arms around these moms and creating a village to help them navigate the system," said Szorcsik.

Soon after in 2021, Sister Friends Tallahassee Birthing Project was started. The program is geared to support black mothers and their babies to ensure successful delivery.

Sisters Friend Program Coordinator Donnielle Ivory has been in this role for over a year. She said she wanted to take on the role because she related to many of the girl's situations having been a teen mom. Now, she is making sure others receive the same support she did as a young mother.

"The Sister Friend she offers her guidance, support, she's the extended family member to the little sister. She helps with mental health check ins, makes sure the little sister knows how to advocate for herself at healthcare appointments, and making sure she knows how to navigate the local resources that we have here in Leon County," said Ivory.

Ivory said you do not have to be a mother to be a Sister Friend to an expectant mother, though this is intended to be for expectant black mothers. There is an extensive training course each volunteer must complete, and each volunteer must be committed to be involved for 18 months.

"We want to make sure that our black mothers and black babies have that same fighting chance," said Ivory.