Kit Jenkins is one of those people. She left the Colorado Springs babywearing group in summer of 2011 and her family is now stationed in Virginia. She has also since launched The Carrying On Project, an organization that aims to get carriers into the hands of military families who need them.
Such families are faced with obstacles that are unique to the military. Husbands deploy and often miss births; mothers are left caring for their three children on their own, with no family around to help. Sometimes service members come home injured and are physically unable to hold their babies with just their own two hands. Kit having served as a Marine herself, was well aware of these kinds of challenges.
After having her baby, she sought out the local babywearing group and found herself at her first meeting with her seven-week-old daughter. Her husband had been deployed for just under six weeks and she knew she needed to find better ways to function around the house with a newborn. She also wanted to stop lugging around the heavy carseat.
There, at the meeting, she met Billie (of Nappies and More...), who taught her how to use a ringsling and wrap.
"I borrowed that wrap for close to three months, and was AMAZED at how much easier it made everything," Kit said. "We used it to travel back to the east coast, to walk the dog, to grocery shop, to do laundry...everything. At that point I had decided that EVERYONE needed a baby carrier, especially people who are running a household by themselves, like military spouses often are."
The seeds were planted. Kit was in love with babywearing for the way it made life easier, particularly for parents like her who were doing it alone without their spouses for many months at a time.
The Carrying On Project officially came to life around Christmas of 2012.
"I had been tossing the idea around in my head for a while...A friend of my husband's died very suddenly two weeks before Christmas," she said. "One of the big things his dad talked about at the funeral was how my husband's friend was always looking out for military families. He was always trying to make sure, especially when part of rear detachment, that all of the families had what they needed. I wanted to take that spirit and run with it."
The name of her organization, "The Carrying On Project" has two distinct meanings. Babywearing is a way of "carrying" our children and going on with life. "Carry On" is also a military order, one that means "keep doing what you're doing," Kit explained. "It's used service-wide, across all branches, through out all the ranks and jobs."
Kit enlisted the help of a friend: Fellow babywearer Rachel Silvernail, who has a background in graphic design.
"I spearheaded the push to get the website up and running," Rachel said.
According to the website, The Carrying On Project has a specific mission: "The goal of the Carrying On Project is to help get carriers to the families of our military so that they may better obtain secure attachments with their children, something that deployment and injuries will often interrupt. We seek to assist both the service members and the families left behind in 'Carrying On' while both home and away, to make something that is difficult for the whole family a little bit easier."
With the hard work of Kit and the help of several baby carrier companies as sponsors, The Carrying On Project has been able to donate many carriers to the families who are nominated, including some that stationed overseas.
"We also partner with Operation Homefront for Star Spangled Babies, which is a baby shower thrown for expecting active duty as well wounded warrior and active duty spouses," Kit said. "Our next major event is in VA Beach, where we will be helping 200 families learn how to use donated carriers and talk to them about the benefits of babywearing, especially while a spouse is at training or deployed."
|Operation Homefront DC Metro Chapter's March 2013 Star Spangled Baby Shower|
(Photo provided by The Carrying On Project)
So what are some of the other plans The Carrying On Project have in store? They have teamed up with Sustain.able Sprouts to create their own custom Girasol wrap, fittingly named "Warrior's Pride."
According to Kit, the new colorway is meant to "bring awareness to our cause and organization" while also bringing "something patriotic to the market." The wrap, which features the standard American red, white and blue, also has teal in it, that represents PTSD Awareness, as well as the yellow, for the yellow ribbon in support of military troops.
The wrap is currently on preorder through Sustain.able Sprouts, who will donate $10 of each wrap bought to The Carrying On project. That money will then be used to purchase wraps that will be donated to military families.
Also, Obimama, a company that makes wrap conversion carriers, has “offered to do a conversion for us, which we will be auctioning off in the fall to benefit Wounded Warrior Project," Kit said.
To keep an eye out for what other projects the organization has coming up, "like" their Facebook page, The Carrying On Project. To nominate a deserving military family, go to their website, http://www.carryingonproject.org/.
**This post was written by Paula R.