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Award for Outstanding Outreach Event

International Babywearing Week 2012 Award for Outstanding Outreach Event by a Babywearing International Chapter is sponsored by Birdie's Room.  The award goes to...

 Babywearing International of Chicagoland 
for International Babywearing Week 2011.

Every meeting and every event turns into a community event.  The group started 2011 with a bang by merging the Lake County Babywearers (small, local group) and the Chicago Slingers (current BWI group), and changing the name to BWI of Chicagoland.  Each group was holding one small meeting by December 2010; the Lake County group was growing quickly, and the Chicago group was more playdate based.  January 2011 we really ramped up meetings and group outreach.  By the end of 2011 we were holding 5 meetings every month, with an additional quarterly meeting, playdates, and other activities. 

IBW week 2011 was really exciting, and overwhelmingly busy.  The entire week included online activities that varied by day, to include people who couldn't make it out to one of our events.  The Chicagoland group spans quite a large area in Illinois, especially considering Chicago traffic!  The group includes caregivers from over 10 Illinois Counties, and a few in both Southern Wisconsin and Northwestern Indiana.  The majority of our group interaction happens on a closed Facebook group for local members.  It was difficult to keep up with all the online activities.  To help educate and share with the public, we also posted information on our group website. 
  • Monday the group held a zoo day at the local, free zoo in the Chicago (Cook County).  The group passed out business cards, informational brochures and meeting information.  It was a great time to socialize, and share the "babywearing love".  
  • Wednesday there was a nice celebration event in McHenry County. It was loud, busy, and chaotic, but really fun!  The event was promoted well, and there were a lot of new parents who were exposed to an exciting alternative to help their daily lives.  
  • Friday consisted of a celebration event at the original meeting location in Lake County.  It was event at a local lactation office, where space is always provided for free, whenever the group asks.  The group also worked with a local town to visit the farmer's market that afternoon.  The group had cards on hand and was ready to answer questions, as locals saw this whole group of moms and pops with kids in all carrying positions.  
  • Saturday there were two separate events, one in the northeastern corner of Cook County, at a location that is really easy to get to from any major highway.  It was held at a local baby boutique and lactation company that has a very large teaching classroom and a full wall of mirrors.  The owner offered a large number of giveaway raffles, and helped promote the event as well.  A fun time was had by all.   The second was held much farther north and west in McHenry County, at an outdoor location
The focus of the week was "A World of Possibilities" and we used that entire week to promote what babywearing could do for parents just learning about the great tools and lifestyle.
Although we are so busy with local support, and don't spend enough effort on our website, we did focus on posting more during that week to try and reach as many caregivers as possible.  Here are two blog posts from that week:

The culmination of all of these events made for a fantastic, week-long outreach event for our group.  

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