Home > Mini-grant spotlight

Ellis County, Monique Holmes

The Ellis County Breastfeeding Coalition (ECBC) decided to write a mini-grant in 2019.  While the coalition was brainstorming projects for the mini-grant, Cathleen Kroeger, ECBC Chair, researched and presented the idea for a traveling breastfeeding mother photography exhibit.  We all loved the idea and thought it had a lot of potential.

Ashley, Huwa and husband, Jordan, at Hays Arts Council Summer Art Walk. August 23, 2019. Ashley is the owner of Huwa Photography.

Upon the news of receiving the grant, mid-May 2019, the coalition quickly began working on the project because our goal was to have the photographs in the summer art walk which was scheduled the last Friday in August through the local art council.  First, we needed a venue to have the photo shoot.  We visited with the photographer we had already approached about the project, also a breastfeeding mother, and she had some ideas of where to have the photo shoot.  We contacted Bethesda Place just to the northwest of Hays and they agreed to have the photo shoot there on a Friday evening.  Bethesda place is a farm and home for men with special needs to be able to live out a meaningful vocation in a home environment.  Next, we sent out a call for models through various media and social media.  We had a great response to the model call and ended up with around 10 mothers and babies.

Ashley Huwa, of Huwa Photography, selected twenty of the photographs taken that night and the coalition sent them off to be printed.  We purchased frames through Hobby Lobby and also matting and plexi-glass to replace the glass so there would be less chance of damage to the frames or photographs.  We were able to get the photos and frames put together in just enough time for the art walk at the end of August.  The Downtown Hays Development Corporation provided space for the twenty photographs on easels (see photograph).  The traveling exhibit has also been on display in Ellis, KS at their art walk and at the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition Conference in Wichita, KS at the end of October, 2019.

The responses to the photographs have been very positive. It has been inspiring to hear mother’s stories of breastfeeding through adversities during the art walks.  The project has reached around 500 people already in the few places the photographs have been on display.  The project has definitely brought  awareness to breastfeeding and the hope is to normalize breastfeeding in our culture.  One of the unintended outcomes of the project is that the models have been so happy to have photos of themselves nursing their children.  The photographs are definitely a keepsake for the mothers and their children as well as cherished memories.

The ECBC would like to share these beautiful photographs with the rest of the state as a traveling exhibit.  ECBC is offering the collection free of charge to other breastfeeding coalitions in the state for only the cost of transportation.  The collection will also be offered to other entities that may be interested for a small fee.  Please contact Cathleen Kroeger or Monique Holmes for more information.

Emporia, Gina Slayden

We have partnered with the City of Emporia to create a lactation room in White Auditorium. White Auditorium is rich in the sports history of Emporia and home to Emporia State University Basketball and Volleyball as well as high school basketball and wrestling tournaments. Other events such as food shows, Taste of Emporia food and beverage expo, concerts and commencement ceremonies also take place at White Auditorium. The maximum seating capacity is 5,000 and the average annual visitor count of White Auditorium is approximately 105,652.

The lactation room will create a private space for mothers to nurse their baby as well outlets for electric breast pumps. We hope to have this completed in the next few months. We are so grateful for this opportunity to continue to welcome breastfeeding throughout the community of Emporia. Thank you, Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition, for your contribution to help make this possible.