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The Michigan Asso­ci­ation of Infant Mental Health hosted a pho­tog­raphy art show at Rough Draft coffee. Col­legian | Abby Liebing

With pho­tographs of babies and fam­ilies, and a speed painting pre­sen­tation from Even Struck, the Jackson/Hillsdale chapter of Michigan Asso­ci­ation of Infant Mental Health, hosted an event on Oct. 22 at Rough Draft for “Cel­e­brate Babies Week.” 

The Michigan Asso­ci­ation of Infant Mental Health is a non-profit pro­fes­sional orga­ni­zation that pro­motes optimal infant and early childhood mental health by sup­porting and helping pro­fes­sionals who work with infants, young children, and their fam­ilies. “Cel­e­brate Babies Week” pro­motes what MAIMH does and the lives of the babies and tod­dlers they work for.  

The event was a display of pho­tographs of dif­ferent babies and fam­ilies by Kelle Patillo. She coupled them with quotes from the babies’ per­spective pro­moting mental health for babies, like “When my needs are met, my trust grows.” 

Along with Patillo’s pho­tographs, 17-year-old speed painter Evan Struck, created a painting in just under eight minutes, which will be auc­tioned off to raise money for the MAIMH. 

Andrea Bricker, who helped plan the Cel­e­brate Babies event, is the pres­ident of the Jackson/Hillsdale Chapter of MAIMH and also an ‘87 graduate of Hillsdale College, and has been working in the Hillsdale com­munity for 25 years pro­viding support for fam­ilies.  

“It’s such a critical time, the first three years of life,”Bricker said. “So we really promote that those critical first three years, it’s all about a rela­tionship. We support the parents that are raising the babies.” 

Bricker explained that with the MAIMH, clin­i­cians go through endorsement, which means that they are ensured that they have the right training to be able to work with infants and tod­dlers, since they are such a special age group. 

She pointed out that with Patillo’s pho­tographs they were trying to com­mu­nicate the power and impor­tance of the early years. 

“It’s these magical moments cap­tured and matched with pro­found truths,” Bricker said. “They are just really pow­erful reminders of what every child in the world needs.”   

Patillo is a mother of three young girls and just about a year ago starting doing pho­tog­raphy pro­fes­sionally. 

“I love pho­tographing fam­ilies and espe­cially new­borns so that’s where I feel like my heart is, with new­borns and babies,” Patillo said. “So this is the perfect project to take on.”

And though the event was not large, they hope to grow in the future and keep pro­moting infant health and the impor­tance of the early years in a child’s life. 

“We did start a little bit smaller but we hope to grow,” Jen Houston, one of the event coor­di­nators said.