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Akron Children’s Hospital, Molly Ann Gries Foundation launch Safe Sleep Academy

02-24-2021 (Akron, Ohio )

Akron Children’s Hospital and the Molly Ann Gries Foundation have partnered to create a free online training program to educate parents and caregivers about best practices to prevent infant deaths due to unsafe sleep.

The Safe Sleep Academy features interactive training for three different audiences: community health workers and home visitors; families and caregivers; and physicians and health care professionals. Each training takes about 30 minutes to complete, and those who successfully finish earn a certificate upon completion. It is available at safesleepforbabies.org.

The new course, created with input from medical professionals, is one way the hospital and foundation are working to prevent unsafe sleep deaths. The most recent data shows that three babies die each week in Ohio because of an unsafe sleep environment. In addition, Black infants are 2.5 to 3 times more likely to die due to unsafe sleep than other babies.

“We want to see babies thrive and survive,” said Dr. Yolanda Moore-Forbes, an Akron Children's pediatrician. “Our region and state continue to see infant deaths that could be prevented. Spreading the word to parents and caregivers about safe sleep is just one way we are helping families to avoid the heartbreaking loss of a child.”

In recent years, Akron Children’s has rolled out several other initiatives, such as videos and community billboards, to educate and inform the community about the ABCs of safe sleep: Babies should always sleep Alone, on their Backs, in an empty Crib. Following these steps helps reduce the risk of sudden infant death.

Meagen Gries, of Hudson, who founded the Molly Ann Gries Foundation with her husband, Jeff Gries, as a result of their infant daughter's death, said spreading the word about safe sleep practices is the foundation's mission.

“Tools like the Safe Sleep Academy can literally make a difference between life and death,” she said. “I encourage moms and dads, grandparents, siblings, babysitters and anyone who cares for little ones to take advantage of this free resource. I’m happy that our family can partner with Akron Children’s on such an important initiative.”

For additional safe sleep resources from Akron Children’s, go to https://www.akronchildrens.org/pages/Safe-Sleep-and-Cribs-for-Kids.html