Parents: Do you have the next "strong baby?" Live casting call set for this Saturday afternoon!

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Since 2011, the Strong Baby campaign has promoted healthy behaviors among Milwaukee mothers. Now, armed with information on what it takes to raise a strong, healthy baby, local parents have a chance to have their little one star in the 2015 Strong Baby advertising campaign and spread the message to future moms.

A live casting call will take place at the BMO Harris Bradley Center this Saturday, November 1st from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The campaign, backed by the Milwaukee Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families, led by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and United Way of Greater Milwaukee, is searching for little ones aged seven months to 18 months to star in the next series of ads aimed at reducing Milwaukee’s infant mortality rate.

“We’re anticipating a big turnout, at least 500 toddlers, at the Strong Baby casting Saturday,” explains Serve Volunteer Creative Director, Gary Mueller. "No talent is necessary. But just as important as it is for us to find the next six strong babies, we’re also looking for parents who will be advocates for the kind of healthy behaviors required to have a strong baby.”

Campaign creators stress the importance of refreshing the effort with real local talent to inspire Milwaukee residents to make a difference in their own lives and follow the examples of fellow local parents.

“There are no better models for the Strong Baby campaign than Milwaukee’s own strong babies,” said Mayor Tom Barrett, co-chair of the Milwaukee Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families, led by United Way of Greater Milwaukee. “I encourage Milwaukee families to answer the call and help us send positive health messages so that more Milwaukee infants become strong babies.”

In addition to taking home a $200 U.S. savings bond, the winning babies will appear on billboards, bus shelters, social media, and web banners in the coming year. Winners will be chosen by a panel of judges and announced in early December.

For those that are unable to attend the in-person casting, submissions can also be made on the Strong Baby Facebook page until November 1st at 11:59 p.m.

Five finalists will be selected among those that attend the BMO Harris Bradley Center casting call, while one will be selected from Facebook entries based on the votes of the social community.

The effort supports Mayor Barrett’s goal of reducing Milwaukee’s overall infant mortality rate by 10 percent and the African American infant mortality rate by 15 percent by 2017. It also supports the goal to reduce racial disparities in birth outcomes, set by the Milwaukee Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families, which is funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program.

“We know this new generation of strong babies will be great ambassadors as we work to increase awareness of the importance of understanding the kind of individual and community change that will lead to a lower risk of prematurity,” said LaShawndra Vernon, program director for the Milwaukee LIHF Collaborative. “We have to change the conditions that lead to poor birth outcomes if we are going to be successful in reducing infant mortality in our community.”

Preliminary data indicates that 117 infants died before their first birthdays in 2013, with complications of prematurity and sleep-related infant deaths representing the two most preventable causes. Nearly 60 percent of all infant deaths and 66 percent of African-American infant deaths are the result of complications of prematurity. Additionally, half of sleep-related infant deaths in Milwaukee occur to infants who were born prematurely, making prematurity a significant risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and accidental suffocation.

For more information on the Strong Baby campaign, visit