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Front Page » July 31, 2008 » Carbon County News » 'Jail and Bail' provides aid to newborns
Published 2,253 days ago

'Jail and Bail' provides aid to newborns


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By C.J. MCMANUS
Sun Advocate community editor

Community philanthropists will be lining up at Big Moe's in Price on Wednesday to bail their "jail bird" in name of aiding the March of Dime's premature birth research.

Teresa Tuck, the MOD's community director, organized the event and is hoping to raise more than $12,000 Wednesday.

"All money raised here will stay here for community programs," said Tuck. "That is one of the best parts of the program."

According to Tuck, the MOD is currently trying to start up a Teddy Bear Den program that encourages young mothers to have healthy pregnancies. By making doctor's appointments, working on their general high school education equivalency diploma, breastfeeding, quitting smoking and drinking while pregnant and getting proper immunization the mothers receive diapers, formula and other essentials from the MOD.

Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death and many lifelong disabilities, according to the March of Dime's website. It also happens to more than half a million babies in the United States every year. Funds from the "Jail and Bail" program assist researchers in finding out exactly what causes premature birth and what can be done to stop it.

The site explains that anyone can be jailed for, "smiling too much on a Monday morning, working under the influence of caffeine and most importantly of aiding and abetting the March of Dimes mission to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality."

After a co-worker or friend is jailed, bail is raised in the form of donations that will fund life saving programs of research, education and community services.

Jail and Bail is one of the MOD favorite events, explains the site at www.marchofdimes.com, as it brings together community leaders and ordinary citizens for the common cause of fighting birth defects, premature births and infant mortality.

Since its inception in 1957, more than five million citizens have volunteered their time in the name of fun and a good cause.

At the event, volunteer "jailbirds" serve time in a "mock jail." Prisoners are arraigned before a volunteer judge on trumped up, outlandish charges, such as reckless golf-cart driving and then sentenced to spend an hour in "the slammer" to raise bail in the form of donations to the MOD. Nearly 500 events are conducted annually across the county to raise funds in this fashion, explains the site.

Mock prisoners can start raising funds even before being arrested.

"Once you complete a few simple steps, you'll be ready to raise money online, offline or both," reports the March of Dimes. "If you raise money online, it's as simple as sending out an e-mail. Set a goal for yourself and send e-mails to family, friends and associates asking them to sponsor you. Once you've signed up as many sponsors as you possibly can, get ready to be arrested."

While the scene may seem a little silly the MOD does remind individuals that all of the play acting is done for a the serious cause of saving babies.

The organization states that MOD's mission focuses on improving the health of babies by striving to prevent all problematic birth related issues.

The March of Dimes carries out the mission through research, community service, education and advocacy designed to save babies' lives.

MOD researchers, volunteers, educators, outreach workers and advocates work together to give all babies a fighting chance against the threats to their health: prematurity, birth defects and low birth weight.

One of the organization's success stories started in 2003 when the March of Dimes launched a campaign to stem the rise in premature births in the United States.

Since 2003, the organization has invested more than $83.5 million in the following related initiatives:

•Education efforts led to a 56 percent increase in awareness of the seriousness of premature birth among women of childbearing age and a 34 percent increase among the general public.

•Since 2004, the prematurity research initiative has provided 34 grants totaling $11.5 million to scientists making advances in uncovering the causes of pre-term deliveries.

•Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait was launched in Kentucky in conjunction with the Johnson and Johnson Pediatric Institute and the state's department of public health.

Employing a combination of clinical, educational and public health interventions, the $1.6 million initiative is aimed at reducing rates of premature birth.

The program will be evaluated at the end of three years with a view toward replication in other areas, according to the March of Dimes.

•A U.S. Surgeon General's Office conference on pre-term birth scheduled for June brought together top scientists from the public and private sectors.

The objective of the conference centered on reviewing scientific understanding of prematurity and creating an actionable plan for research and activities around prevention.

•In 2007, the March of Dimes chapters awarded more than $8.8 million in grants to local organizations focused on maternal/child health.

Along with allocating the grant funding, the MOD chapters distributed millions of educational pieces and marked November as Prematurity Awareness Month with professional summits, local building lighting and state house rallies.

In addition to the $4.3 million committed to prematurity research, the March of Dimes invested $28.8 million in research on key issues in developmental biology related to the organization's mission.

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