In 2014, a VBE by the name of Drea Eisenberg from the Chicagoland chapter of Babywearing International was living in the area. She knew that BWI could provide more resources and outreach and recognized that it was time for that step. She encouraged Babywearing of South Chicagoland to affiliate with BWI and they became BWI of South Chicagoland.
The group serves a very large area, south of Chicago and its suburbs, from the southwest suburbs to northwest Indiana. They started with two meetings in two different locations. They lost one meeting and were down to one location but are now up to three locations. The area they serve is really some of the most diverse suburbs of Chicago. They have members from many different cultures as well as many different geographic areas from suburban to very rural.
In 2015 BWI of South Chicagoland almost went under. The leadership at the time had reached the end of their babywearing days, or they were just moving on from running a babywearing group. Recognizing how hard the women who affiliated worked to get the chapter going, and not wanting to see it go away, Sarah Anton, Beth Egge, and Brittany Discher stepped up to run the chapter. Those three then recruited four more VBEs and three more Chapter Support Volunteers and now they are “small but mighty again!”
The chapter recently had their first members-only event – a carrier petting zoo – and are looking forward to hosting a babywearing dance class in the coming months. They would also love to add a fourth meeting location since they cover such a widespread area. Another exciting thing is that they just got a Kinderpack for their library. This is extra exciting because Kinderpack is a local Illinois company. The chapter has been working really hard to add to their library since they started having three meeting locations. Members really love their Lenny Lamb soft structured carriers, toddler carriers and the wrap blends they’ve added. They’ve also improved their carrier selection in all categories except mei tais, so they are working on adding more of those to their library.
Advice to other chapters? Keep calm and wear babies. “We refer to ourselves as the little engine that could here in the South Chicagoland! There’s so many reasons we shouldn’t be succeeding, and we are learning a lot about running a chapter, but in the end we love teaching others to wear their children and the rest of the stuff we figure out!” They don’t always know the best way to promote their chapter, fundraise, etc., but at the end of the day, parents in South Chicagoland are wearing their babies safely and happily. They are working on becoming a more well oiled machine in their leadership so that there is a better distribution of work.
Sarah Anton is very proud of her chapter: “I guess one of the things I’m most proud of is not only coming back from closing, but cultivating a dedicated and amazing group of volunteers who are now taking our chapter to the next level. I feel so lucky to have them. Secondly, we’ve done a really great job of creating a welcoming and inclusive babywearing community that people are excited to be a part of. It’s such a great feeling to spread the babywearing love.”
Join BWI of South Chicagoland on Facebook or follow them on Instagram: @bwisouthchicagoland