Women of Worth
Brittany's Baskets of Hope
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The arrival of a new baby into the world should always be a joyful occasion.

But all too often, when babies are born with Down syndrome, the first thing that parents hear is "I'm sorry."

Brittany Schiavone wants to change that, which is why she founded her nonprofit, Brittany's Baskets of Hope where she makes and delivers baskets of presents and information to new parents of babies with Down syndrome.

"We're trying to flip the script," says Brittany's mom, Susan Schiavone. "Instead of hearing 'I'm Sorry,' new parents are hearing 'Congratulations!'"

"I give them hope," says Brittany. "I give them hope and joy and happiness for their child."

Brittany first got the idea for giving presents to newborns with Down syndrome after watching a video about people helping families and babies on her break at work. So, she went home and declared to her parents that she wanted to do something similar. She wanted to give families and newborns presents. And she wanted to tell the moms that it's going to be okay.

Before long, this idea transformed from an ambitious idea to a fully operational nonprofit that sends baskets to new parents in all 50 states, thanks in part to Brittany's awesome family that rallied around her to help make her dream a reality.

Each basket is carefully put together to include baby essentials, like pacifiers, socks and bibs, information for the parents (including a book), onesies with "Down Right Perfect" on the front, and hand-knit blankets, hats and booties.

So far, Brittany has made and sent over 950 baskets. Volunteers all over the country help hand-knit gifts or donate money to help her create each of her very special baskets. And Brittany's dedication to her cause is why she was chosen as L'Oréal Paris' 2019 Women of Worth Honorees.

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Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
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The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

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