"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."
- Frederick Douglas
A Gift That Lasts A Lifetime:
We’ve been saying it for years. The research is finally catching up.
Last year, an article in the New York Times by two time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof, stated that, “perhaps the most widespread peril children face isn’t guns, swimming pools or speeding cars. Rather, scientists are suggesting that it may be “toxic stress” early in life, or even before birth.”
Later, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a landmark policy statement, based on two decades of scientific research, that “toxic stress” in infancy or early childhood can “disrupt the architecture of the developing brain, thereby influencing behavioral, educational, economic and health outcomes decades and generations later.”
What that means is that the notion that stress is bad for the baby during pregnancy isn’t just an old wives tale. It is a very real threat to our mothers and the future of our children and families. While stress is a natural part of life, unrelenting stress on a mother and her child becomes toxic and can have devastating affects. Babies who suffer from toxic stress in the womb are not only at a greater risk of being born premature, but they are also more likely to suffer from heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other physical ailments later in life. They are also more likely to struggle in school, have short tempers, and tangle with the law.
But, the good news is that toxic stress is preventable. Studies have shown that relationally-based programs like Step By Step, where a mother receives in home visits and professional care, are working. When a mom feels supported and has someone to turn to and to ask questions – she will feel better, cope better with stress in her life, and make better and healthier choices for herself and her baby.
The mothers and babies who are at the greatest risk from this “toxic stress” are the mothers we serve – they are our young moms, our mothers facing poverty or homelessness, those who are struggling with depression, addictions, or who are victims of domestic violence.
This is what we do every day. We come alongside our moms, as soon as they find out they are pregnant. We make sure our moms receive the best prenatal care possible. We go into their homes and neighborhoods. We spend time with them, providing counseling, education, and encouragement. We teach our moms how to make healthy choices. We encourage them to breastfeed, to cuddle their babies, to parent wisely. We connect them with other moms and people in the community who care about them and can help them be successful.
We are breaking the cycle. Our babies are being born healthy, and we are transforming the lives and the futures of our mothers and their children.
In spite of deep funding cuts over the past three years, causing agencies similar to ours to close their doors, we have continued to offer our services to more and more of the moms and babies who need us. A big part of the reason we have continued to be successful and continued to grow our outreach and programs is YOU. Your generosity over the years is what has made it possible for us to do what we do.
Would you consider a special financial gift to support our work at Step By Step?
Help us continue to break the cycles of poverty and abuse and rewrite the futures of those children who would otherwise be born into adverse situations.
Your gift will have a lifelong impact on a mother, her baby, and our future!
Founder and Executive Director