In honor of National Infant Mortality Awareness Month, the 4th annual “Barbers for Babies: Infant Mortality Prevention & Awareness Event” was held September 22, 2013 at the Jacksonville Women’s Lion Club — Lions Football Field in Arlington. Under rain-threatening skies, over 175 men, fathers, father figures, women and children attended the event. Participants received educational materials and local and statewide data on infant mortality and the 39 Week campaign and enjoyed refreshments, music, raffles and young males flag football games. And despite rearranging many of the words, and not hitting any known musical notes; the crowd really cheered and showed their patriotic spirit when Master Barber Johnny Upson (JD) rendered his version of our National Anthem, an inspiring moment indeed.
Although nine Arlington Barber Shops agreed to participate in the event; other shops from the area and around the city were on hand to lend their support and commit their participation in future events or awareness activities. The 39 week, 7lbs 4oz printed on back of the Barbers for Babies T-Shirts was a mystery to the men in attendance and the teen males, with a few of the women knowing the meaning. However, once learning the meaning and hearing their role in assuring the women in their lives have a healthy pregnancy before, during and after conception, the importance of the days awareness activities really hit home. All were shocked at how little they knew about infant mortality or the recommended 39 week gestation period. As the event was ending and the rain was falling, the Barbers, fathers and men in attendance all agreed to continue making a noise and making a difference to support and inform others on the prevention of infant mortality and importance of 39 Weeks.