“How do I help my group become more diverse?”
“How do I reach out to people of color?”
“We try to invite more people to our meetings but they don’t ever come! What are we doing wrong?!”
These are just some of the many statements and questions I hear from various people who want to make their local babywearing group inclusive. The funny thing about these questions is the fact that these groups have done NOTHING to make their groups inclusive before asking. Not even a single google search.
Well, here is something you should bookmark if your goal is diversifying your babywearing group.
Who specifically do you want to reach? This is the easiest question to answer. Once you figure out who you are trying to reach, you can take the first steps of finding them.
What type of outreach do you want to do? One-time? Short-term? Ongoing? One-time outreach would be birth expos, Big Latch On, newspaper advertisements, TV appearances, and other things like that. These are not regular. A short-term event could be a weekly workshop that lasts for a month or some other set period of time. Ongoing would be weekly/bi-weekly/monthly meetings that you regularly hold.
When are your meetings? Are your meetings at accessible times? If your only meeting is 10:30 on a Tuesday morning, you are excluding many working caregivers! Is that your goal? Of course not! You want to have meetings at times that people can go. If your only meeting is that weekday meeting, consider rotating that one meeting between a weekday morning, weekday evening, and a weekend time. The goal is to be accessible.
Where are you meetings? Your meetings should be in areas that are accessible. Locations such as public libraries and community centers typically are within walking distance of public transportation. If your area does not have much public transit, your meetings could be held in spaces directly in the areas that you want to reach. You can also have your meetings in parks as well. Volunteers who have vehicles and the ability to carpool should be going to where the help is needed. If you don’t have enough volunteers to staff more than one meeting a month, rotate locations. Distance is a non-factor. If you expect the people you are trying to reach to come to you, why wouldn’t you go to them?
How are you getting the word out? Marketing your meetings and events is important. You cannot only market on social media. Many people do not have access to social media regularly. Ask local birth workers if you can leave your cards and flyers with them. Visit local hospitals and WIC offices to see if they will allow you to leave marketing materials with them as well. (While there, see if you can set up an outreach event!) There are usually bulletin boards in libraries–ask if you can post your meeting information there. Carry business cards with you to hand out while you are out and about. When I’m in stores with baby carriers, sometimes I walk around to see if there are people checking out the display–chat with them too!
Hopefully these tips are helpful to you and your babywearing group. Thank you for striving to be inclusive!