Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a public health concern that is close at home in Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s Infant Mortality Rate has exceeded the national rate consistently over the past decade. SIDS is the leading cause of infant mortality in babies over 1 month and up to one year of age.
Erica Buckley, a resident of Altus, active duty Air Force member, and current Liberty University student pursuing a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree has taken time out of her busy schedule this summer to educate members in Jackson County and beyond on SIDS prevention. Working around the clock this summer, Buckley completed a summer internship at Pathways Pregnancy Resource Center in Altus as part of a required practicum in the final semester of the Liberty MPH program. “While her time at Pathways has been just limited, her efforts have been anything but small,” said Liz Moon, Director of Pathways. “Erica is taking on big issues in our community and has a real passion to make a difference.” While at Pathways, she has completly revamped the center’s Earn While You Learn (EWYL) program which allows pregnant women and new parents to complete educational lessons to earn points that can be redeemed for maternity and/or baby clothing and supplies. Desiring to take things a step further, Buckley also took a special interest in the EWYL Safe Sleep lesson focusing on SIDS prevention and performed 11 on-site presentations to child care centers located in Altus, Blair, Mangum and Hobart. “My goal at Pathways was not only to improve and promote the much needed services in the local community, but also to tackle a real public health concern that is relevant and close to home in Jackson County and the surrounding areas,” said Buckley.
Erica’s efforts will leave a lasting impression with the staff and clients at Pathways as well as other community members. During her internship, she has also attended monthly JCHAAT (Jackson County Community Health Action Team) meetings, gaining additional public health field experience, and hopes to continue her involvement throughout the remainder of her time in Altus. “This experience has been more than I could have hoped for. Connecting the public with services and educating those who are close enough to issues to make a real difference is an essential part of improving public health concerns like unplanned pregnancy and SIDS. I can’t change the world by myself, but I am happy to be a part of a team who is focused on working together to make our community a healthier place to live,” stated Buckley.
Pathways, Pregnancy Resource Center recently renamed Life Services at Pathways, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to serving women and families through free pregnancy tests and ultrasound to confirm pregnancy. Through its Earn While You Learn program, Pathways has helped countless number of the local and surrounding communities in the past 12 years. For more information, visit www.altuspregnancycenter.com or www.altuspathways.com or contact Liz Moon at email@example.com.