Programs: Breastfeeding is Best: Bus Poster Project

Spearheaded by Dr. Margreete Johnston of Nashville, the Bus Posters project on breastfeeding was born out of an advertising campaign from the Office of Women's Health, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). This department has promoted breastfeeding as a public health priority for over a decade. Their position on breastfeeding is that a breastfed child and his or her mother have enormous advantages immunologically and nutritionally. These benefits last beyond weaning for both the mother and baby and result in less obesity, diabetes and cancer. To this end the DHHS leadership has reached out to various coalitions and groups to get the "word out" to the public. Women seeing other women breastfeed is a powerful message in itself. They developed posters, TV and radio ads that were to be distributed to groups such as state chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) who would see that they were used appropriately.

Dr. Johnston became aware of the promotional project as it was launched but liked the idea of reaching people in other ways besides the doctor's office. With the exciting and encouraging news in 2006 that Tennessee passed a law allowing women to breastfeed in public, there suddenly was an opportunity for an ad campaign. At one of the annual AAP meetings, a group in the Section on Breastfeeding, including Julie Ware, chief of chapter breastfeeding coordinators, brainstormed the idea to find a model. Fortunately, a member's husband from east Tennessee, Willie Stallworth, volunteered his time and energy into the poster project.


In Nashville, the Metropolitan Transit Authority has a fleet of buses for public transportation that serve corridors throughout the city, but especially in north and east Nashville where there are blended communities. While interior bus posters would reach a larger audience, including students who use city buses to go to magnet schools, the cost was a barrier.

The Tennessee Pediatric Society Foundation was contacted for support. After obtaining the funding for the posters project, it was time to prepare for distribution. A talented graphic artist at Signs First used a photo and hand-written message to create an eye-catching ad. There are currently forty public service announcement posters still traveling, and according to one of Dr. Johnston's 16 year-old patients who rides the bus 5 days a week, "everybody gets it."