On the 20th May, I was invited to the 18th Semana do Bebe conference in Canela in the southern state of Brazil - Rio Grande do Sul. The launch for that weekend was an official opening with a statement speech by Dr. Carmen Nudelmann who I met three years ago. She is now the patron of Semana do Bebe and spoke about it's journey over the years.
The main presentation for me was on Saturday 20th May at 4pm. It was exciting to be back there were I was first inspired. I had prepared the presentation about the journey for implementing the Semana do Bebe initiative to Leeds. I spoke about how we had started as small team and slowly brought different groups together from the public, private and voluntary sectors of the city. They were really impressed with how much we had done in two years of organising, and I explained that the family, children's and maternity services were all there, it was just a matter of bringing them altogether to celebrate for one week.
I was really interested in the developments from Recife government who shared the table with me, Cardiologist and Pediatrician and also the First Lady Cristina Mello and Eliane Germano Executive Secretary of Health Care from the government offices who I briefly met last year when I went to present our plans to implement Baby Week in 2016. They were only in their 3rd year of implementing the Semana do Bebe, so two years ahead of us, but already making improvements to standards of clinics and engaging families. They explained about being proactive in responding the needs of all children including special needs especially after the outbreak of the Zika. They also mentioned engaging tourism and housing into their strategy and everyone involved with children. Following the tradition they present a key to the baby mayor and look forward to hearing the developments with that mother and child over the year. It was fascinating just how close Leeds is to Recife in similar thinking, as they too have policies including the; '1001 days' they recognise as being critical in helping to support babies and that how 'one week can be critical in helping change a babies life'.
After the presentation I met with Cristina and Eliane and said how inspired I had been with their work and we spoke animatedly about how we could join our organisations together to work in partnership regards to Baby Week in the future. They were keen to work at joining up with us on their student exchange program already established in Recife.
It was great to feel part of where it all began 18 years and how other municipalities have adapted the initiative to help their local communities.
The Baby Week team are currently getting ready for the next Baby Week in September 2017 (11th -17th). Keep watching the website for eventbrite updates