WSU South Campus recognized for support of breastfeeding moms

Chance Swaim

Wichita State’s South Campus received an award for its lactation room this month.

The Kansas Business Case for Breastfeeding awarded the South Campus, located in Derby, the Gold Recognition Award for supporting nursing moms.

Employers across the state were evaluated based on criteria for three levels of support services: gold, silver and bronze.

The award came after the South Campus put up decals that said “breastfeeding welcome here.” Brenda Bandy, program director for the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition, said in an October interview with The Sunflower that she urged the university to show support for the initiative and add the decals.  

Bandy also advocated the university apply for the Employer Support Award.

This recognition is part of a larger movement to designate Wichita as a “community supporting breastfeeding” through the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition. The designation would make the community eligible to receive funds from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

“We want to make sure that as an organization, WSU gets the recognition that they deserve, so that they can be counted toward the designation,” Bandy said. “[That will show] WSU is going to be fully on board and do what they can to make sure these designation criteria are met.”

She said there are many benefits associated with this designation, including greater public health, decreased infant morbidity rates, cost effectiveness and employer benefits.

“Women who are breastfeeding their babies have infants who are healthier, and so the parents are missing work less often because their children aren’t sick as often,” Brandy said. “The economic impact to the employer, the return on investment, if you will, is also something that needs to be stated as a positive.”

When communities support breastfeeding — including the general public, employers, family members and friends — the mother is much more successful in her breastfeeding goals, said Kathy Walker, lactation services manager at Wesley Medical Center.

Jolynn Dowling, an instructor in the School of Nursing, said the university has done good work making campus more supportive of breastfeeding but hopes the efforts continue on Innovation Campus.  

Last year, Wichita was one of five communities in Kansas selected to gain assistance from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to achieve the community supporting breastfeeding designation. To receive the assistance, the city has to earn the designation by July 1.

Wichita has fulfilled most of the requirements, but where it lacks is in business and employer support, Dowling said. Wichita State became one of the 25 businesses required to earn the designation.