Saturday, January 25, local Phoenix organization, Our Mothers and Us (OMUS) held its first event of 2020. The event entitled; Envision Health: Creative Expression Workshop; is the brainchild of OMUS founder and Arizona native, Bianca Comer. The event is “designed to encourage knowledge-sharing, fellowship, self-advocacy, and self-care to ensure healthy pregnancies and transitions into parenting.” (OMUS Mission Statement)
Bianca holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Healthcare & Society, and a Master’s degree in Development Practice (MDP), both from the University of Arizona (U of A).
In addition, Bianca has also conducted research exploring how social status, class, and race affect health outcomes for people of color and undeserved populations— domestically and globally.
In fact, while still a U of A student, Bianca noticed that many social programs too often dictate the actions steps women need to improve their socio-economic situations. In Bianca’s opinion, social programs should, instead, ask women how they envisioned their lives and the ways they envision themselves changing.
“Questions are sometimes difficult to answer because no one has ever posed the question,” Bianca believes.
“The point of Envision Health,” says Bianca, “is not for me to tell you what you should be doing or what’s wrong with what you are doing. It’s not to shame you. It’s for you to look within yourself and say, ‘how do I envision my health and what do I need to do to achieve it?’”
Bianca believes that creative expression is a great way women can develop the vision for their lives.
For me, Bianca shares, “Creativity is a reminder of who I am. How I operate. My mind-my way of thinking. It’s a way to check in to that part of myself. I couldn’t imagine myself not having something creative to do. The art itself is a contribution to [my] health.”
This understanding of creative expression, combined with her passion for maternal and infant health, lead Bianca to form Our Mothers and Us (OMUS). OMUS increases awareness and facilitates transparent discussions surrounding Black maternal health through research, workshops, community events, projects, and collaborations.
Founded in 2018, OMUS began as a campaign project on Instagram in participation with the Black Mamas Matter Alliance’s (BMMA) “Black Maternal Health Week”. The Instagram page featured video interviews exploring Black women’s experiences during pregnancy, labor, and birth; breastfeeding; perinatal education and resources; and perceptions about maternal health disparities and birth inequity in the United States.
OMUS’ vision is “for women and their families to have the tools necessary to make informed decisions related to their physical health and overall well-being— before, during, and after pregnancy.” (OMUS Vision)
OMUS plans to host more events in 2020 and is actively seeking funding, partnerships, and opportunities to promote their presence throughout the Phoenix and East Valley area.