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WIC Program Graduates Peer Counselors

OSWEGO, NY – Kimberly Kelley, peer counseling program assistant with the WIC Program of Oswego County, has announced the graduation of three breastfeeding peer counselors for WIC’s breastfeeding program.

“We are happy to welcome our recent graduates. The addition of these new peer counselors will allow us to educate and encourage more mothers and expectant mothers to choose breastfeeding for their child,” said Kelley.

The Oswego County WIC Program, facilitated by Oswego County Opportunities, welcomed three new breastfeeding peer counselors. From left are: peer counseling program assistant, Kimberly Kelley, CLC; peer counselors Selena Stacey, Gina Holsopple, with 5-month-old Lilly, and Carol Brown; and breastfeeding coordinator Mary Ellen Pierce, IBCLC.
The Oswego County WIC Program, facilitated by Oswego County Opportunities, welcomed three new breastfeeding peer counselors. From left are: peer counseling program assistant, Kimberly Kelley, CLC; peer counselors Selena Stacey, Gina Holsopple, with 5-month-old Lilly, and Carol Brown; and breastfeeding coordinator Mary Ellen Pierce, IBCLC.

The new peer counselors, all of which are mothers who have or currently are breastfeeding and have been participants in the WIC Program, successfully completed an extensive 20-hour training course developed by the New York State Department of Health.

The course covers how and why a mother’s body makes milk, as well as how to successfully begin breastfeeding so that the counselors are able to effectively address any concerns that an expectant mother may have regarding breastfeeding.

Peer counselors provide prenatal and postpartum support and are available to meet with mothers in the clinic, the hospital, or their home to give them encouragement, share the benefits of breastfeeding, and provide them with the proper education necessary for them to successfully begin breastfeeding.

Kelley said that counselors strive to educate, encourage and empower mothers who would like to breastfeed their child. The counselors meet face to face with their clients and work to develop a relationship that is encouraging and supportive. The education they receive during training, combined with their own experiences with breastfeeding, prepares them well for their roles as peer counselors.

“We are proud of our new peer counselors. They are an important part of the support system that breastfeeding mothers need. In addition to the information they provide for moms, they also educate dads and other family members on the vital role they play in the successful outcome of breastfeeding. The support that breastfeeding dads provide has a positive impact on the mother’s self-esteem and confidence regarding breastfeeding,” added Kelley.

With the addition of these new counselors Kelley anticipates continuing a current trend that has seen an increase in the number of breastfeeding mothers who are accessing WIC services.

“Our counselors are truly a dedicated group of mothers. They are passionate about the benefits of breastfeeding and are anxious to share their experiences and help other mothers discover the joys of breastfeeding. I’m excited to have our new counselors begin interacting with moms,” said Kelley.

For more information on the benefits of breastfeeding, or the many services offered through the WIC Program, visit their main office at the OCO Oswego Health Center, 10 George St., Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., or call 315-343-1311, or toll free 1-888-730-3803.

One of Oswego County’s largest employers, OCO’s workforce of more than 650 employees and 1,000 volunteers provide more than 50 human services programs that touch the lives of more than 28,000 each year.

As OCO celebrates its 45th anniversary it is on a roll to continue its mission of helping people, supporting communities, changing lives, and improving the quality of life for Oswego County residents.

For more information on OCO, a member agency of the United Way of Greater Oswego County, visit www.oco.org