Homeless mother take a stance, prompts change at IHS - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Homeless mother take a stance, prompts change at IHS

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Karen Penley Karen Penley
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

By: Diamond Badajos

The Institute for Human Services has partnered with Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawaii to improve the conditions in which breastfeeding mothers can nurse their children.

Karen Penley, a guest at the IHS, exclusively told Hawaii News Now on Sunday that she felt “discriminated against” and “controlled” when an IHS employee allegedly told her she could not breastfeed her 9-month-old son without a cover in public. She continued the allegations by saying if she chose to breastfeed in the manner that she wished, she would not be allowed to come back to the IHS.

These allegations, true or not, have prompted the IHS to take action.

Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies executive director Lisa Kimura led a class Wednesday for the IHS staff dealing with the sensitivities of breastfeeding and the rights of mothers.

“IHS really does take the health and safety of our guests and our staff seriously and we really wanted to just jump on it,” said Connie Mitchell, the IHS executive director. “This is an opportunity for us to learn more and to really share with the community that we are about being proactive and about being helpful to our community as well.”

Penley was excited about the news and glad that her actions and concerns can help future mothers at the shelter.

“I think it’s great because there are a lot of new moms and a lot of pregnant women that come in here,” Penley said. “I would say that given what they're doing I see a better future for children and mothers.”

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