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First perinatal professionals gathering, Friday

LIHUE — Barbara Essman, creator of the Sacred Birthing Community Doula Training, and a member of the Birth to Grade Three Focus Area, wants to help Kauai parents welcome a healthy child into a loving family.

“By working together with other professionals, we can accomplish so much more,” she said.

Essman is working with Tiana Kamen of the Kauai Planning and Action Alliance, Keiki to Career Kauai to host the first perinatal professionals pau hana from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Ha Coffee Bar.

“If we want to grow healthier children on Kauai, our entire community needs to come together to support healthier births,” Kamen said.

The goal of the gathering is threefold: to increase cooperation among those who provide services to expectant mothers and new families, to share information and strategies to prevent premature births and low-birth weight babies and to increase understandings of the many supports and services available to strengthen families when they welcome a new baby.

Everyone who works with pregnant families and infants IS encouraged to attend.

“We want to create a relaxed setting where people can meet their peers from across the island, share stories, and learn from each other,” said Marion Paul, president and CEO of Kauai Planning and Action Alliance.

The theme for this first pau hana is “Nutrition — Preconception to Childhood.” Dr. Lee Evslin, former CEO of Wilcox Medical Center, will be joined by Dr. Brigitte Carreau, a practicing pediatrician at Kauai Medical Clinic and Wilcox Medical Center to discuss this topic.

The idea for the perinatal professional network sprouted from Keiki to Career community partners who volunteer on the Birth to Grade Three Focus Area, to help keiki get a good start in life, participate in early childhood education and come to kindergarten ready to learn.

“Prenatal to age 5 is the period of rapid brain development in a child which sets the stage for health, lifelong learning, and overall well-being,” said Phyllis Kunimura, founder of KIDS school, author of “Beyond the Sandbox,” and a member of the Birth to Grade Three focus area. “Without a strong foundation, these keiki may struggle to catch up with their classmates.”

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