Just over a year ago, Babywearing International welcomed it’s first chapter in Florida. BWI of Gainesville affiliated in May of 2014, and they serve the college town of Gainesville and the surrounding areas of North Central Florida. The chapter started off with a long-standing unaffiliated group that had a large online presence. Resources were stretched thin, however, and activities were unorganized. They decided to affiliate, and doing so provided structure, a common frame of reference, and organized goals to work towards.
Gainseville currently has four Volunteer Babywearing Educators, or VBEs. Due to the transient nature of their college town community, the number of volunteers fluctuates. In the past year, they’ve gone from two VBEs to five, back down to two and now are at four educators and a Chapter Support Volunteer. It can be challenging, but they’ve found that making a regular presence at local hospitals’ postpartum and lactation luncheons has been a great source of new interest and participation.
During International Babywearing Week 2015, BWI of Gainesville embraced their adventure with an outing at the local teaching zoo. They had a great turn out for an event that didn’t feature their lending library and were excited to socialize without the structure of a meeting. They also had a “Pet a Unicorn” event with some highly sought after and hard to find brands and blends of wraps. “Some of our more ardent woven collectors loaned their handwovens and rarer brands for the evening so others could pet and play with them for a bit,” Lua Lepianka told us.
During the month of November, the chapter has the traveling TwinGo visiting. They have also recently created a twin membership program. In addition to that, they are hoping to split their library into two libraries in 2016 to make it more accessible.