It Takes a Village: Giving our babies the best chance

Utah’s Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders (NHPI) experience significantly higher rates of infant mortality compared with Utah overall. However, no health promotion interventions exist in Utah or the U.S. tailored to Pacific Islanders to address this and other birth outcomes disparities.

Since 2012, the Utah Office of Health Disparities (OHD) in collaboration with public health and health care professionals and community partners has been working to address this issue. A final product of these efforts is the It Takes a Village: Giving our babies the best chance (ITAV) project. It Takes a Village raises awareness and educates NHPI families and community members about maternal and infant health in the context of Pacific Islander cultural beliefs and practices. IVAV is one of the outcomes of a birth outcomes disparities project that was originally rooted in the theoretical framework from the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities.

Developing the project

In spring 2015, the Utah Office of Health Disparities (OHD) in collaboration with the MAHINA (Maternal Health & Infant Advocates) Task Force conducted a pilot project consisting of six workshops for 23 members of NHPI communities to raise awareness about birth outcomes disparities. After evaluating the pilot project, OHD created a NHPI Birth Outcomes Advisory Committee to review and revise the pilot program and create a video production. In spring 2016, the new It Takes a Village: Giving our babies the best chance (ITAV) project was completed in five NHPI communities across the Wasatch Front among 87 community members. Focused on developing a promising practice, OHD conducted focus groups and a quantitative analysis of vital records to inform final revisions of the curriculum. Finally, OHD hired a program assistant from the NHPI community to help ground the curriculum in NHPI culture and tradition. From May 2017 to February 2018, OHD conducted the final implementation and evaluation of the ITAV project among 63 NHPI community members.

Target population

The It Takes a Village project is intended for adults 18 and older who consider themselves part of the Pacific Islander communities. The project is tailored to Tongans and Samoans who represent the largest Pacific Islander communities in Utah and experience the most infant deaths among Pacific Islanders in Utah.

It is recommended participants in the project have at least a high school education and be able to speak and understand English. This ensures that participants have an adequate reading and comprehension level to learn and understand the information presented.

All genders, generations, and marital statuses are combined in the project. This creates an environment where different thoughts, opinions, experiences, and knowledge can be shared, learned, and appreciated by all. It is especially helpful for males who may not be familiar with the topics to be exposed to the new information and to learn from experienced individuals.

Funded by

This project was supported by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Utah Department of Health through funding from the Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant to the States (6B04MC31520-01-02), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 2015-2017.

This project was made possible by previous efforts funded by the State Partnership Grant to Improve Minority Health (Grant # 6 STTMP131088-01-02) from the Office of Minority Health, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 2013-2015.


In many Pacific Islander societies, both towns and districts were divided into village communities. The purpose of the It Takes a Village project is to establish and maintain the communal bond you will find woven throughout the Pacific in this concept of a village.

Fono 1: Our village and our legacy

Participants form a village council. They review the practice of nurturing relationships or the pan-Pacific concept of . They become aware of how infant mortality or the death of an infant before its first birthday impacts their community and develop skills to start this conversation in their community.