Florida’s Healthy Start celebrates 30 years of improving the health of at-risk moms and babies

ORLANDO, Fla. — April Johnson has loved being a mom to her daughters, Alexis and Deja.

She remembers how scared she was, at 19, when her first baby was on the way.

“What am I going to do with a baby? I don’t know the first step of how to raise a baby and what it is to do with a baby,” Johnson said.

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Then she found Healthy Start, with its prenatal classes and nutrition education.

The program was created in 1991 to address the state’s alarming rates of infant mortality and low birth weights and remove systemic barriers to care.

Today, it offers an array of direct care from support and wellness counseling to hands-on home visits.

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The numbers speak for themselves.

Through the pandemic Healthy Start has provided screenings for nearly 140,000 moms and almost 200,000 babies.

Executive director Thelisha Thomas said for many who work at the coalition it’s more than a job – it’s a mission.

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“We will do whatever we can to the best of our ability to ensure that you have a healthy pregnancy, healthy outcome and healthy baby,” Thomas said.

More information about Healthy Start and the services provided can be found here.

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Matt Reeser, WFTV.com

Matt Reeser joined WFTV in 1998 as a news photographer and has worked for television stations in Kentucky and West Virginia.