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Breastfeeding advocates reaching out to mothers with walk

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By Brooke Perry

On Saturday the Citrus Breastfeeding Coalition is sponsoring a one-mile Family Fun Walk benefiting the new La Leche League of Citrus County.

The event will be from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at The Ceili in Crystal River. In addition to the walk, children can enjoy face painting, a bounce house and other activities, while parents will be able to get information on breastfeeding, nutrition and safety information by visiting tables set up by multiple Citrus County organizations. Raffles will be held to give away packages and gift cards from local businesses. 

The core purpose of the walk is to educate mothers and get support from the community on breastfeeding. Julie Pollard, leader of the Marion County La Leche League, will lead meetings at the new La Leche League in Citrus County beginning in May.

“This county has really low breastfeeding rates, and when there is support of breastfeeding the rates increase,” Pollard said. “We want to provide support for mothers.”

La Leche League is an international support group that leads in breastfeeding research and helps mothers worldwide to breastfeed through meetings.

The Citrus Breastfeeding Coalition is sponsoring the event and is a community organization that has seven official community partners and roughly 20 volunteers. President and Senior Public Health Nutritionist Melissa Salmon-Heil explained that WIC of Citrus County has counselors who hold similar meetings, but primarily for mothers on the WIC program.

“This will help women because it is very available to all mothers and is all about the family,” Salmon-Heil said. “There are so many benefits, and they last long after the breastfeeding days are over.”

Proponents of breastfeeding claim it fosters strong bonds between the baby and mother, results in a happier baby and mother and lowers the chances of the mother developing breast cancer. 

“There are so many advantages,” Pollard said. “And the obvious one is that breastfeeding is economically less expensive.”