Initiative to address infant mortality on the Hilltop


By Noell Wolfgram Evans
Staff Writer

Raquel Fuentes, the community program manager for Celebrate One, attended the Oct. 3 Greater Hilltop Area Commission meeting to share the initiatives that her organization is undertaking in an effort to combat infant mortality.

She said that an average of 13 babies on the Hilltop alone die for every 1,000 live births. The average of infant deaths across the city is 8.

Celebrate One is undertaking a large-scale information campaign so that, as Fuentes said, “We want to give everyone the information to save babies.”

Residents will start to see a series of posters, billboards, bus ads, and postcards sharing personal stories of those affected by the death of an infant.

“We want to share these stories so that others don’t have to go through that situation,” Fuentes said.

As part of the Safe Sleep Initiative, Celebrate One is working with Columbus Public Health to ensure that every baby has a safe place to sleep by distributing free Pack ‘N Play portable cribs to those in need. The Safe Sleep Initiative promotes the “ABCs of Safe Sleep” – babies should sleep Alone, on their Backs, and in an empty Crib.

In other news, commissioner Jay McCallister reminded residents that the fire department will inspect and even install at no charge smoke detectors for residents. Those interested should call 614-724-0935.

Commissioner Ruth Thurgood Mundy shared an update on a local effort to get West High a historic designation from the state. While this was successful, efforts are currently underway to get a national historic designation for the building and a proposed “historic district” for the surrounding area.

Also speaking at the meeting was Kevin Wheeler, planning administrator in the city of Columbus Department of Development. Wheeler shared an overview of his department, touching specifically on his division’s duties.

McCallister took this opportunity to ask about plans for one of the largest underused spaces on the Westside – the mall.

“When do we get Westland Mall and then how do we get rid of it?” he asked.

Wheeler was not optimistic about next steps regarding that location.

“The city is not proactive in going after private property, but when the owners of Westland Mall want to talk about it, we’ll listen.”

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