Mommies (get it?) educating the community to healthier lifestyles.
by Kindra Fehr
Becoming a parent brings many magical, interesting, and unexpected changes to a life. One change is an awareness of things that you may have overlooked for your own wellbeing but now would never consider exposing your child to. Toxins in the environment, pesticides in our food, and the future of our planet are concerns for us as adults, yet they take on even greater magnitude when we consider our children's future and whether there will be a planet left for them to live a lifetime upon.
With the birth of their children, two local moms, Shelley Marshall and Natalie MacDougal, decided it was time to do something about it. Shelley had been a nurse at the Birth and Family Place when she met Natalie who was teaching a mom and baby yoga class called Mom-ease. Shelley had hoped to one day open a wellness center with the intention of being a consultant to hospitals in bridging holistic and western medicine. Natalie had hoped to expand her yoga teachings and be able to offer free services for those in need. When they came together, Mom-ease became more than a yoga class. These two moms discussed their concerns and wrote a mission statement:
"At Mom-Ease we are dedicated to making community change towards a healthier lifestyle, as well as a kinder environment. Through education, healing arts, sustainable living and funding, we hope to insure that future generations will have a better quality of life than we currently could ever imagine."
They reserved library space and began holding presentations. These presentations have included infant massage, Reiki, the Green Building Center, Utah Rivers Council teaching to "rip your strip," baby sign language, organic clothing and conscious cleaning, eco-friendly Christmas and organic gardening for kids. They also hold open discussion forums. Unless specifically noted, children are always welcome at these events.
Starting a non-profit organization is a huge commitment, especially on top of being a mother to a two-year-old and working as an ice skating instructor. I asked Shelley why she did it. "I was spending hours researching everything for our family anyway. I wanted to share my findings. When I met others who had similar interests and felt the same way I did-a community for my daughter to grow up with that has the same values-it was a relief."
Shelley also researched financial aid for alternative medicine in pregnancy care. At this time it is non-existent, she concluded. "We hope someday after getting funding to be able to provide free services to pregnant women in need but for now we're focusing on educating and small actions that make a difference."
Natalie has moved to a small farming community in California and contributes as she can from afar. Shelley, with the help of Melissa Warner on the website, works as hard as ever to get a larger community involved and linked together.
Kindra Fehr is an artist and mom to toddler Aria Hancock. She co-instructs the Salt Lake Art Center's KidsmART program.
Shelley's recommended resources:
"It's Easy Being Green: A Handbook for Earth-Friendly Living," by Crissy Trask
"Alternative Medicine for Dummies," by James Dillard and Terra Ziporyn
"Talking Dirty With the Queen of Clean," by Linda Cobb
Kiwi Magazine: Growing families the natural and organic way at Kiwimagazineonline.com
"Mothers & Others for a Livable Planet Guide to Natural Baby Care: Nontoxic and Environmentally Friendly Ways to Take Care of Your New Child," by Mindy Pennybacker and Aisha Ikramuddin (available at the Green Building Center).