The sign at the entrance to Wuneechanunk Shinnecock Preschool reads Hakame Wutokasinoh Noonooe Mukkiesog, meaning “Welcome Mothers of Nursing Babies” in the Shinnecock dialect of the Algonquin language. Through the hard work of the director, Shoshoni Fulcher, and her staff, this culture-centric preschool on the Shinnecock Native Lands in Southampton is well prepared to support and encourage breastfeeding families with their NYS Council on Children and Families Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care Designation. The center has a rocking chair in the infant care room for breastfeeding mothers who may want to stop by to nurse and a policy that promotes breastfeeding and healthy nutrition. Additionally, the well-trained staff is ready to feed babies on cue and help families find the resources they need.
Wuneechanunk Shinnecock Preschool cares for children aged 6 weeks to 4 years, many of whom are from families who live on the Native Lands. The environment is focused on learning, health, and, especially, community. Wuneechanunk Shinnecock Preschool translates to “Our Children of the Stony Shores Preschool” in English, and the school is committed to caring for and teaching children using Shinnecock culture and language.
Nationally, breastfeeding initiation and exclusive breastfeeding rates at 6 months, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, are lower in Native American and Alaska Native populations (Jones, Power, Queenan, & Schulkin, 2015), but breastfeeding has been generally well-supported in the Shinnecock community. This recent designation demonstrates the community’s commitment to helping mothers and families reach their breastfeeding goals even as they return to work or bring their child to the preschool.
Wuneechanunk Shinnecock Preschool worked closely with the BFREE team to achieve each of the 6 steps of Breastfeeding Friendly Designation, which can be found at: https://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/nutrition/cacfp/breastfeedingspon.htm.
Congratulations to the team at Wuneechanunk Shinnecock Preschool and thank you for collaborating with us!
Jones, K. M., Power, M. L., Queenan, J. T., & Schulkin, J. (2015). Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding Medicine, 10(4), 186–196. https://doi.org/10.1089/bfm.2014.0152