Regional Notebook: April 8, 2021

Published: 4/8/2021 3:48:10 PM
Panelists to discuss racial disparities in maternal health

SPRINGFIELD — The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts will host a virtual panel on racial disparities in maternal health on April 15, at 11 a.m. as part of Black Maternal Health Week.

According to a Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts press release, the following panelists will be featured:

■Dayna Campbell, assistant professor at American International College in the School of Health Sciences, adjunct instructor at Holyoke Community College, and president of the board of directors and co-executive director of the Springfield-based Women of Color Health Equity Collective;

■Tonja Santos, nurse midwife, assistant director of the Division of Midwifery at Baystate Health, and faculty member with the Baystate Midwifery Education Program;

■And Marisa Pizii, deputy director of programs with the Amherst-based Civil Liberties and Public Policy.

The discussion will include strategies for pregnant women on advocating for care; raising awareness for the connection between lack of appropriate and timely care with maternal morbidity and infant loss; education on how to establish a team of caregivers; and ways to address provider bias and racial microaggressions produced by structural racism in medical care, according to the release.

To register for the virtual event, visit

Humane society holding 31-day challenge as fundraiser

SPRINGFIELD — Dakin Humane Society is presenting a 31-day challenge next month for people and pets to indulge in activities together while enjoying each other’s company.

The #ByMySide challenge takes place in May and encourages participants to walk, run, ride bicycles or even snuggle a pet cat as activities during that period. According to a Dakin press release, participants will be part of a virtual movement of animal lovers supporting health and happiness while raising money to support the programs at Dakin.

Registration is $10 and is available at The release states Dakin hopes to raise $20,000 with the #ByMySide challenge, as well as see participants be engaged in a cumulative total of 100,000 minutes of activity.

“This new event grew out of our desire to create an opportunity for people to enjoy activities this spring, perhaps with their pets by their side,” Stacey Price, Dakin’s director of development and marketing, said in the release. “Being in confinement for so long now has been tough, and for many of us, our animals have been wonderful company and continue to lift our spirits. While we can’t all come together yet, the 31-day challenge will inspire us to become more active and enjoy spring weather — indoor or outdoor — with our best friends by our side.”

Price said participants are encouraged to choose an activity level that will motivate them, then set a goal to spend a specific amount of time each week being active.

“Participants can ask friends and families to support them to help animals in need, and enjoy fun prizes like T-shirts, water bottles, sling bags and jackets, which they’ll win at specific fundraising milestones,” she said.

Participants can join Dakin’s Strava page, a free online platform to track exercise, which links to social media networks for easy sharing with friends. The release states there are also fundraising tips and tools at

Autism Connections holding 30th annual conference

HADLEY — April is Autism Awareness Month, and Autism Connections, the Western Massachusetts autism center serving individuals in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties, is hosting its 30th annual Autism Conference on April 29.

The day-long virtual conference will bring together hundreds of parents, caregivers, educators, people with autism, self-advocates, professionals, organizations and service providers to raise awareness, share knowledge and make connections, according to an Autism Connections press release.

“The conference is virtual this year, but the engagement that people associate with the annual conference will be the same,” Autism Connections Director Karen Serra said in the release. “We know how busy people’s days are right now, so we are thrilled to be able to offer all who register access to recordings of the conference until December.”

Morning and afternoon breakout sessions will focus on topics as they relate to autism, including “Boundaries and Relationships,” “I Used to Be Bullied for Having Autism — Here’s When it Stopped,” “Combating Diagnostic Disparities in African Americans,” “Individualized College Support for Students in Need of Transition Services” and more.

Educator, writer and advocate Morénike Giwa Onaiwu is the morning keynote speaker, and will also present a breakout session titled, “Forged by Fire: The Intersection of Race, Disability and Gender,” the release explains.

Stacey Gordon, an American puppeteer who is best known for portraying Julia, a 4-year-old Muppet with autism on “Sesame Street,” is the afternoon keynote speaker. As she is also the mother of a child with autism, the release states Gordon will also present a breakout session on “Puppeteering for Parents and Professionals.”

For more information about Autism Connections or the 30th annual Autism Conference, visit or email

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906


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