In 2008 four babywearing groups across the nation came together and with an idea to create a non-profit organization that promoted safe and free babywearing instruction to caregivers of all types, origins, and backgrounds. The four founding chapters were: Chicago, Central New York, Birmingham, and the Bay Area. Since 2008 BWI has grown to add over 80 chapters across 36 states, including Hawaii. There are currently no international chapters, but that is something they hope to accomplish in the coming years.
The most crucial part of BWI is their educator training. They offer free training to any caregiver that wants to teach and promote babywearing within their chapter. They offer 3 levels of education:
1. Volunteer Babywearing Educator (VBE)
2. Advanced Babywearing Educator (ABE)
3. Master Babywearing Educator (MBE)
To help you better understand the organization as a whole here is a snippet from the BWI website:
BWI members share a core set of beliefs and guiding principles:
- that baby carriers are powerful tools for parents and caregivers, enabling them to hold their babies more comfortably, more securely, and longer than they would otherwise;
- that the practice of babywearing is beneficial for both children and caregivers;
- that babywearing promotes bonding between children and caregivers;
- that all types of baby carriers have value, and caregivers benefit from having a wide range of available options;
- that baby carriers should be comfortable for both children and caregivers and can be used for as long as is mutually desirable;
- that babywearing is compatible with any parenting style or philosophy
- that through education and support children and caregivers can benefit from the ease, comfort, and utility of baby carriers.
As an organization BWI seeks to:
- provide information about the benefits of babywearing for both children and caregivers;
- foster the creation of a global network of peer educators to support and encourage those interested in babywearing;
- provide high quality educational information about the types of carriers and their proper usage;
- provide ongoing support for babywearing educators;
- develop a positive image for those who practice and promote babywearing;
- enlist members of the medical community, birth professionals, and child care providers as babywearing facilitators;
- to further advancements in research about the benefits of babywearing and babywearing techniques
- be a resource for researchers and other professionals who are looking for evidence-based information about babywearing.
(The above information can be found at www.babywearinginternational.org)
Locally, we have a much shorter history.
Our local chapter was founded by 5 wonderful mamas, and in less than one year we have grown to include over 80 members, moving us out of the small chapter category - that's fully attributed to our wonderful members and local community.
Our founding leaders, BWI educator levels and position on the Board of Directors are:
- Ashley Teller, VBE, Technology Chair
- Carrie Mayo-Plemons, VBE, Secretary
- Jenny Arden, VBE, Lending Library Co-Chair
- Mary Rodio, ABE, President
- Sarah Murray, VBE, Vice President
Since our founding we have had three VBEiTs (VBEs in Training) pass their exams and join our team. They are:
- Anna Hurley, VBE, Lending Library Co-Chair
- Brittany Ridley, VBE, Finance & Fundraising Chair
- Nikki Moore, VBE, Membership Chair
As a chapter and as a group and as a community we are so thankful to be serving the Greater Knoxville Area and East Tennessee. Babywearing is such an integral part of our lives and we have all found innumerable benefits with our own children and just want to share that with other caregivers in the area. Thank you, members and community, for helping make BWI and BWI of Knoxville what it is today. We hope for many more years of growth and success to come as we continue to carry our babies.