every woman nc blog

January 5, 2015

Please welcome our newest regional coordinator, Michaela Penix! As the Eastern Regional Program Coordinator, Michaela provides preconception health education, training, and support in 29 counties in eastern North Carolina.

Michaela has served as a Public Health Educator in Cumberland County, specializing in maternal and child health and safety. While in Cumberland County, Michaela worked to help reduce infant mortality and unintentional injuries in children through her grant initiative, The Baby Store Project. This grant allowed pregnant and parenting women in Cumberland County to earn free and safe baby items by attending education classes and using maternity services offered through the Cumberland County Department of Public Health. Michaela has also been an active part of health research in Eastern North Carolina and served as an Instructor of Health at East...

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December 29, 2014

by Steffie Duginske

If anyone has talked with me in the past 6 months or so, you have probably noticed I can’t make it through a training, discussion, or conversation without bringing up the ACE Study; which stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences.  I learned about the study through the Innovative Approaches Project housed within Buncombe County Health and Human Services, who has a dedicated sub-committee collaborating to address this important research. When I mention the ACE Study, some have heard about it, but many have not.  Through my work with the North Carolina Preconception Health Campaign, we have a long list of goals including improving women’s wellness, reducing health disparities, reducing chronic health conditions, and improving reproductive outcomes - and I can’t help but connect the ACE study findings to the work of the NC Preconception Health Campaign. ACEs are common; nearly two-thirds (64%) of adults have at...

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November 14, 2014

by Kweli Rashied-Henry

During my teenage years, my girlfriends always provided good advice. From who to date and what outfit to wear to school, to what colleges to apply to and how to bargain shop. They did not have a say, however, in my figuring out when to have children. Planning for my reproductive future was always a tricky subject. Between talks with my dad about the consequences of being a teen mom, and the dirty looks given to my fellow students who got pregnant as teenagers, it was a distant goal and definitely not something I intended at a young age. However, there is far more talk today about reproductive life planning, especially among young adults.

Reproductive life planning is a readiness tool to help women and men of reproductive age develop and work towards their personal goals for having or not having children. Almost half of all pregnancies are unplanned – in North Carolina that is more than 50,000 pregnancies each year. A baby’s vital...

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September 15, 2014

The North Carolina Preconception Health Campaign welcomes its new State Coordinator, Kweli Rashied-Henry. Kweli has over 15 years of public health experience and she has worked in different capacities to improve the health and wellbeing of underserved communities across the life-course. Previously, she served as the Director of the Black Infant Mortality Reduction Resource Center in New Jersey, a statewide infant mortality initiative that focused on reducing stress and promoting other risk-reduction strategies among women of African descent.

Kweli’s prior roles include Deputy Director of the Alzheimer’s and Caregiver Resource Center for the New York City Department for the Aging, and Policy Analyst for the Brooklyn Health Disparities Center in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout her career, she has fostered many multi-...

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September 12, 2013

By now, much of the public health and health care community in North Carolina recognize this Campaign as the March of Dimes North Carolina Preconception Health Campaign. We are known for spreading preconception health messages within health departments and doctor offices, among consumers and providers, and at community- and professional-level events. 

However, many people still remember our initial years as the North Carolina Folic Acid Campaign, a nationally recognized, award-winning campaign created to improve infant and maternal health by promoting the benefits and consumption of folic acid. While we were similarly engaged across the state as the Folic Acid Campaign as we are now as the Preconception Health Campaign, our messaging was more singularly focused on the promotion of folic acid use among women of childbearing age. And through those first years’ work many came to recognize our flagship folic acid pieces. 

Almost any time I go into an...

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June 28, 2013

By Steffie Duginske, Western Regional Coordinator

As a health educator, I am interested in my health and the health of others.  However, I am also a former cigarette smoker and understand tobacco addiction all too well.  Like so many others, I started young - 14 years old - for the typical reasons.  I wanted to fit in with a friend.  I was definitely addicted well before high school graduation.  Sadly, it took me 10 years to finally kick the habit.  On a positive note, I’m one of the lucky ones who quit for good.  Of the nearly 69% of adult smokers in 2010 who wanted to quit, more than 50% tried but only 6.2% succeeded.1

I would like to use this blog to talk not about prevention (of course it’s best to not even start) but rather on the benefits of cessation counseling for those who are already addicted. At the Campaign we focus especially on women of childbearing age, as their tobacco use can impact their own...

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May 10, 2013

Although I am relatively new to the March of Dimes NC Preconception Health Campaign (NCPHC), I have learned through both my work and personal experience that most women need to be encouraged to be their own best advocate when it comes to their health care. Our campaign provides trainings to both health care professionals and consumers on the best practice areas of preconception health–one of them being the importance of non-pregnant women establishing a medical home and having a primary care provider.

Having a “home base” for your health care needs is good for everyone: your medical and family histories can be housed in one place, chronic conditions and/or medications can be closely managed, weight concerns can be monitored, and preconception health counseling, like reproductive life planning, can take place. Using a medical home for non-emergency health issues instead of the emergency room can save patients a lot of time and money, and it curbs the...

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February 15, 2013

Please welcome our newest regional coordinator, Steffie Duginske! In her role as Western Regional Coordinator, Steffie will work throughout North Carolina's 27 western-most counties to provide trainings and presentations on preconception health using the Campaign’s evidence-based models and curricula.

Steffie has a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from Indiana University-Bloomington where she majored in Physical Education with a minor in Health Education. Prior to joining the Campaign, she worked at the Haywood County Health Department for over 6 years. As a Health Educator coordinating the Healthy Carolinians program, Steffie led various health action teams determined by the community health assessment. Before that, she was a certified health and physical education teacher for pre-K through 12th grade in a variety of settings ranging from rural...

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February 14, 2013

Show Your Love. Your body will thank you for it. www.cdc.gov/showyourlove

Show Your Love is a new national campaign developed by the Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative (PHHCI) in partnership with the March of Dimes North Carolina Preconception Health Campaign (NCPHC), to help women prepare for healthy pregnancies. Launched today, Valentine’s Day, the campaign’s message points out that if a woman chooses to have a child, she can show love for her child by first loving herself by adopting healthy habits well before becoming pregnant.

The health behaviors a woman can adopt to improve her preconception health include the following...

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January 18, 2013

In the summer of 2012, the Preconception Health Leadership Team held a series of three regional coalition meetings with a total of 64 participants throughout the state in Boone, Elizabeth City and Spindale. The Preconception Health Leadership Team also coordinated an Annual Preconception Health Coalition meeting in Asheboro in July 2012 with 54 participants from different areas of the state. All of these meetings were instrumental in gathering information for the Preconception Health Coalition’s strategic planning process, celebrating accomplishments, and sharing best practices. Work on the 2014-2019 NC Preconception Health Strategic Plan was also initiated at these meetings.

At the annual coalition meeting, PRAMS, BRFSS and NC census data were shared to assess how well the state was doing in regards to improving preconception health outcomes between 2006 and 2010. Ensuing discussion by coalition members highlighted both successes and continued challenges shown by this...

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