To make an impact on SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death rates, the Safe to Sleep® campaign not only informs its outreach efforts with data and evidence, but also enhances its efforts by working with and within different communities. By relying on the expertise of community members, organizations, and governments, Safe to Sleep® is able to get effective, tailored safe sleep messages deep into communities in ways that would not be possible for the campaign working alone.
Experience with African American Communities
In 1999, the NICHD, First Candle (formerly SIDS Alliance), and the National Black Child Development Institute hosted a meeting with representatives from national African American organizations as a first step in capitalizing on the experience and knowledge of these organizations in reaching members of their communities. Representatives from various groups participated, including:
- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (AKA)
- Chi Eta Phi Sorority
- Chicago Department of Health
- D.C. Department of Health
- National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
- National Medical Association
- National Coalition of 100 Black Women (NCBW)
- Pampers Parenting Institute
- Zeta Phi Beta Sorority
Participants proposed messaging and outreach strategies that had proven successful with their constituents, and the NICHD and other campaign sponsors incorporated these ideas into a broad outreach strategy for reaching African American communities. The campaign created a suite of materials tailored to African American communities, a collection of materials and training modules intended to help individuals educate people in their communities about SIDS risk reduction.
In 2001, then U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher debuted the Resource Kit at a meeting in Atlanta, GA, with members of AKA, Women in the NAACP (WIN), the NCBW, and other groups. This first national training workshop on SIDS risk reduction was followed by more than 40 regional train-the-trainer sessions.
In 2003, the AKA, WIN, and the NCBW hosted "Journey for Our Children" summits in Tuskegee, AL; Los Angeles, CA; and Detroit, MI. The summits featured training on how to use the Resource Kit and other Back to Sleep efforts related to SIDS risk reduction. These summits proved to be effective in mobilizing communities to take action in spreading safe sleep messages and in getting people excited about SIDS risk reduction activities. They also served as a primary impetus for many local outreach efforts conducted by summit participants.
To learn more about the summits, select a link below:
Since the summits, the Safe to Sleep® campaign has supported a variety of additional activities to help revise safe sleep messages appropriately and to spread them across African American communities. These activities include focused efforts in Arkansas, Alabama, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Mississippi, and Ohio.
In 2015, the NICHD and Kappa Alpha Psi® Fraternity, Inc., began collaborating on an outreach initiative to teach fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, and other community members about the ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.
Experience with American Indian and Alaska Native Communities
In 2002, informed by the findings from the Aberdeen Study described earlier, the NICHD hosted a meeting with members of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities to discuss infant mortality and SIDS in the Northwest and Northern Plains regions of the United States. In addition to learning general information about SIDS, infant mortality statistics, and outreach methods that have been successful, participants discussed potential responses for their own areas of Indian Country with high SIDS rates.
At a follow-up meeting in Rapid City, SD, in 2003, participants identified community-driven strategies designed to increase awareness of SIDS risk reduction, as well as how to reach people with these messages while preserving cultural traditions. In addition, participants established the Healthy Native Babies Workgroup to advise the NICHD and its partners on the development of messages, materials, and outreach strategies specific for AI/AN audiences.
To further define the needs of these communities, the NICHD and members of the workgroup held a series of discussions in five IHS regions in the Northern Tier: Aberdeen, SD; Bemidji, MN; Billings, MT; Portland, OR; and Alaska. The results of these discussions helped the workgroup define safe sleep messages and identify strategies for disseminating information.
Partners in American Indian/Alaska Native outreach and the workgroup include:
- Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairmen's Health Board
- Association of American Indian Physicians
- Bemidji Area Indian Health Service
- Billings Area Indian Health Service
- Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan
- Minnesota Department of Health
- National Indian Women's Health Resource Center
- Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board
- Red Lake Tribal Council (Minnesota)
The result of this unique collaboration is a suite of materials and outreach activities specifically tailored for AI/AN communities. The workgroup's activities continue, revising existing materials and messages and refining outreach strategies to ensure effective dissemination of this important information. Learn more about the Healthy Native Babies Project.