by Elizabeth Kirts, MPH, ICCE, IBCLC, RLC
February is “heart” month. Most likely spurred by Valentine’s Day, many of the health awareness days are related to heart health, heart conditions, and reproductive health. Mixed in are some other health awareness days for the United States, Canada, the UK, and across the globe. As I was looking at the recognition calendar, it got me thinking about why we have set aside specific dates that raise awareness for health issues. Which leads back to the heart; the fact that we want to recognize the struggles people face. We have empathy for one another. You, as the certified professionals, IAT’s, and members of ICEA are the heart of our organization. Without you, we would not be able to drive our mission, vision, and values out to the families and individuals we serve. You are what makes our organization successful. For me, knowing that people are getting education and support at an exciting and vulnerable time is core to what I value. You make a difference! The creativity and resiliency in which all of us continue to be a resources and guide for the many families, couples, and individuals going through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum is exceptional. One day, people will look back on this time and ask us what it was like and how we navigated the challenges. Until then, we are still living and working in a very different time. We need to continue to recognize that each of us has a different experience with the pandemic. It is important to remember to have an awareness of one another and to offer grace and mercy when needed. Your Board of Directors has continued to meet and work hard for ICEA. In a recent meeting, we were talking about the possibility of a face-to-face meeting in the fall. We are really hoping it is possible but are also still waiting a bit longer to make that decision. During that meeting, I mentioned that I have been on the board since 2014 and that except for one individual, I have not met any of the board members in-person. I want to take a moment to commend the board members who have served the past few years. We have managed despite being virtual to accomplish a lot and build relationships. As I am watching the Strategic Plan begin to unfold, I continue to be impressed with the dedication and tenacity of the people working to grow this organization. Some things to look forward to include; the upcoming Movie Night, roll out of our newly designed website, new resources for teaching, the updated doula curriculum, and so much more. Results from the member survey are being compiled so that we can determine what is most important to you. Watch the Newsletter and our Facebook page for more information on all these exciting things. Before closing, I want to go back to the opening paragraph where I mentioned another important recognition during February, Black History Month. Although not specifically related to health issues (April is Minority Health Awareness Month), some parts of Black History have had long-term health impacts. In graduate school, I had one semester in which we studied the ethics of health and healthcare. The inequities and abhorrent practices need to be taught and remembered so that we do better. As the ICEA President, I will assure you that we continue to look at Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity so that we do can be the needed change. As always, I am honored to be a part of such an amazing organization. I am here to listen to your needs and concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact me if there is anything I can do for you.