Internship Reflection

Elle Ford at MOMentum Park: Designing digital solutions to provide prenatal health resources to African American moms

I applied my experience as an African American and Indigenous woman and as a recent public health graduate student to help build need-specific and culturally competent programming for MOMentum Park
March 4, 2021
Elle Ford

This summer, I was co-sponsored by The Wallace Center and the new non-profit organization MOMentum Park. On the research side of my internship, I worked with Dr. Sylvia Guendelman to examine the relationship between African American perceptions of maternal mortality and the role of technology. We wanted to further explore how technology can aid in closing the racial gap in health outcomes for African American mothers. 

On the organizational side of my position, I teamed up with Dr. Renaisa Anthony to get momentum behind MOMentum Park! I first began learning about the organization and where I fit in. I applied my experience as an African American and Indigenous woman living in the US and as a recent public health graduate student to help build need-specific, pregnant women-centered, and culturally competent programming for MOMentum Park. I got the opportunity to work on a diverse range of projects, from design tasks and website building to research and grant writing.  

At MOMentum Park, we provide services to all women but focus on those that need help the most. We know African American women suffer the worst pregnancy/birth outcomes including (but certainly not limited to) maternal and infant morbidity and mortality. Both African American moms and their babies in the US have mortality rates over 2 times more than that of their white counterparts. We cannot and will not accept this status quo and we aim to close this gap. One of our approaches is Shaping Healthy & Empowered Reproductive Outcomes, or SHERO.

SHERO is a timely and innovative digital solution to address the prenatal needs of pregnant women. It was designed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on traditional, on-the-ground programs. What we envision is an online community that integrates technology and public health with social services and prenatal support. SHERO’s online ecosystem will offer an online community that provides emotional and prenatal support through weekly virtual meetings that offer educational and supportive discussion. It will also include comprehensive lists for resources like supplies, social services, and local hospital/birthing center locations. Also offered will be a ‘Momma Marketplace’: a place where moms can buy, sell, and trade any pregnancy-related items with their fellow pregnancy pods. Our goal is to make SHERO a one-stop-shop for moms and their needs.

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