Charlotte Babywearers is now officially Babywearing International of Charlotte (BWI Charlotte). But what does that mean? Well Babywearing International, Inc. is a national non-profit babywearing organization who's mission is to "promote babywearing as a universally accepted practice, with benefits for both child and caregiver, through education and support." Having the backing of this national organization will offer our group many advantages which we'll explain more about in another post, but this evening I wanted to point out one of the requirements for becoming a Chapter.
Before BWI will grant a group Chapter Status, the group has to have at least two leaders who have obtained what's called their VBE or Volunteer Babywear Educator certification. It includes both a written application and an in-person or skype skills assessment, and requires a well rounded knowledge of all the major carrier types and safe babywearing practices. BWI Charlotte is amazingly lucky to start off with not only two but four VBE's.
Ann Jordan, VBE
Katy Elwood, VBE
I'm Katy. I've been babywearing since my 2 year old (Lane Henry) was a couple weeks old. I love babywearing for many reasons. I like that it allowed me to get up and do stuff when my son was an infant. It allowed me to channel my frustration from other parenting things I wasn't so good at into something I knew I could do and something I was actually good at. Currently we (my husband and I) are still "toddler"wearing on a daily to weekly basis. While we stick to mostly buckles, I do enjoy an occasional wrap job. My strengths as a babywearer are wrapping, soft structured carriers, and SAFE DIY Babywearing. I made my first Mei Tai when my son was around 8 months old. Since then I've made countless Mei Tais and Ring Slings with the occasional DIY woven osnaburg wrap. My weakness as a babywearer is I churn through wraps and carriers like crazy! I'm recovering and currently own only a single Toddler Kinderpack.
Cat McDonald, VBE
I'm Cat and I have four children....oops I mean three but hubby counts as one because he doesn't clean up after himself. ;P I have a 14 yr old diva who is a freshman in high school, I wore her in all sorts of awful contraptions back then probably all recalled now and none of them comfortable. I have an almost 4 year old son who has complex medical needs (Mitochondrial Disease). He has a feeding tube and wears continuous oxygen he also gets weekly subQ infusions to boost his immune system. I started wearing him when he was a squish and at 36 lbs he still likes to be worn in my toddler tula at times. I also have an 18 mos old son who also has complex medical needs (suspected Mitochondrial disease) he has a feeding tube. I started wearing him when he was a squish and at 20 lbs I still wear him in the tula and also use my shortie in a rebozo. I'm the proud owner of a growing case management agency (Footprints Case Management) so I work around 80 hours a week;) totally not exaggerating.
Bonnie Stafford, VBE
And finally, I'm, Bonnie. I'm honored to be the mama of a lively, curly headed, little ball of awesome named, Lily. I've been babywearing since we came home from the hospital. We started out with a stretchy wrap which literally saved our sanity during her colicy stage. Then my husband went back to school in the evenings when she was 6 months old. I truly have no idea how I would have survived without the Boba I borrowed from the lending library all those months ago. Lily is now a little over 2 years old and we "toddler" wear on a very regular basis. My personal goal is to make sure that as many parents as possible know about babywearing and those that choose to wear have the resources and support to be successful at it. My babywearing strength is soft structured carriers. I love them! I try to stay on top of what's coming out, how different ones fit and the benefits and drawbacks of all the different designs. Although I also have a soft spot for squishies in a rings sling. My major babywearing weaknesses is that I hoard like crazy. I've yet to let go of a single carrier I've ever acquired. Makes me a good library curator, though.
As a team, we are excited to lead this group to even bigger and better things than we have already seen. However, as we celebrate these new adventures and the new VBE's we don't want to lose sight of the fact that this is a mama helping mama (parent helping parent) group and it always will be. One of the things that makes our group great is the cumulative knowledge and experience all of our members possess. Always feel free to share your experience whether it's at a meeting or at Target. You don't need a VBE to be a babywearing advocate!
And if you think you'd like to be a VBE, please let us know. Our group is growing by leaps and bounds and we are going to need as much help as we can get in the next little bit! Don't feel like you have the knowledge? That's ok. If you have a passion for babywearing and the motivation to learn, we can teach you!
A huge thank you to each and every one of you. We wouldn't be the group we are without all of you and us VBE's are excited to see where we are headed together!