Carmen Nudelmann and the Semana Do Bebe (Baby Week) Canela

Before I leave the University I have one more appointment with Carmel Nudelmann. Carmen is a paediatrician who represents ULBRA and helps to organise the forthcoming ‘Baby Week’ held in the small tourist town of Canela North of Porte Alegre. The town is famous for its tourism and its chocolate factory (sounds familiar). I researched the Baby Week before travelling to Brazil but Carmen breaks down the epic story of an example of active community participation.

The event takes place every two years and is now celebrating it’s 15th year. Founded by Professor Salvador Antonio Hackman Celia, (deceased), Professor Odon Frederico Cavalcanti Carneiro Monteiro and Pedro Raymundo Dias they initiated the idea of creating one week dedicated to the world of babies in Canela. It has since mobilised the whole town with the main message to promote mental and physical health in the early years of a child’s life.

Baby Week is organised collectively by municipal members of the government, health professionals, businesses, and the University. However, along the way the Canela municipality has given most of the ownership to the community who have made it the success it is today. The planning of the week responds to the needs of the community, with a variety of workshops and seminars towards all aspects of developmental stages of a babies life.

The event always begins on Mothers Day 12th-18th May. Representatives from around the country and international guest speakers attend. Last year the Red Cross president talked about drug addiction. They are also supported by UNICEF http://www.unicef.org/peru/spanish/unicef-promotes-first-indigenous-baby-week-in-brazil.pdf. Preparations for the week are conducted through meetings held every four weeks throughout the year that bring different representatives together that help organise a variety of seminars, conferences and workshops across the town. There are workshops on post- natal depression and support for fathers in recognising the ‘baby blues’, also, domestic violence and impacts this has on the children. As soon as one event finishes they’re planning the next.

Then just to make it more interesting for the first baby to be born in this week made the baby mayor with each baby from the previous year being on the cover of the next preview booklet. Each year there is a theme – ‘Love for Life -What does your baby want?’ Each baby mayor is given a Godfather who will support this family throughout its life.

There are also sex education workshops given to the high school children 14-16 years old. These are facilitated by medical students with the aim if a person closer to the children’s age the more receptive the session will be. The teacher is forbidden to stay. Learning all about having children and the responsibility this entails is promoted through making sure you know how ‘not’ to have babies. The first baby mayor Jean Philipe is 15 now and takes part in these workshops. This has helped reduce teenage pregnancies.

Another proactive and interested member is the MP Cristine Albuquerque has helped recognise the need of more free childcare for families and increasing maternity and paternity leave.

Baby week has become so successful that the model has been adopted in 300 states in Brazil, Portugal and Uruguay. There are plans to make a State Baby Week spearheaded by PIM’s (the program I visited earlier in the week)
At the end of the week everyone goes on the baby walk decorating prams and buggies led by the school band. It’s gets quite emotional.

I then mention I am an Infant Massage Instructor in Leeds and relay the value of the four areas of communication, bonding, muscle growth and calming. The next thing I know I’m being invited back for baby week to do a presentation on my journey helping parents bond with their babies. It looks like I will be experiencing Semana Do Bebe too, and I will be their international guest speaker. Get ready Holbeck you will be participating in international research.

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