Sherwood Park, AB. — Thanks to the efforts of the fashion studies students from Lakeland Ridge, babies spending time at Misericordia Community Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are able to bond with their parents even when they can’t physically be together. Junior high fashion students have been sewing fabric hearts to help newborns and parents build a familiarity with one another, which would otherwise be impossible. “I feel a connection to this project, because I have a little cousin who was born premature,” says Makenzie Osmond, a Grade 9 student at Lakeland Ridge. “My aunt and cousin each received a bonding heart and I saw how important it was to them. Through this program we are helping create bonds between a mom and their baby even when they can’t touch each other.”
The Misericordia Hospital gives two cloth hearts to each family when an infant is admitted to the NICU—the parent or caregiver wears one heart against their body, and the other heart is wrapped with the baby. After a few days, the cloths are exchanged. The mother’s scent on the cloth is used to provide the baby with a sense of physical closeness and comfort when the parent is unable to be in direct contact. Conversely, the scent of the infant helps stimulate lactation for a mother who is storing breast milk for a hospitalized baby.
“The project started out as a way for us to get back into the practice of sewing at the start of the course, and contribute to a good cause at the same time,” says Caroline McKay, the fashion studies teacher at Lakeland Ridge. “It’s really taken off among the students though. We have students who continue to work on this project on their own time, after the introductory section of the course is over.”
While the University of Alberta Hospital and the Royal Alexandra Hospital have similar cloth-hearts programs, the program at Misericordia Hospital was the result of a connection between a Lakeland Ridge student and her aunt, who is a NICU nurse at the Misericordia Hospital. With the successful reception from both students and the Miseracordia Hospital staff, the start-of-class project is something McKay plans to continue and grow over the coming years.
Lakeland Ridge serves approximately 760 students in kindergarten to Grade 9 and is one of 43 schools within Elk Island Public Schools. More information about the school is available at www.lakelandridge.ca.
For more information contact:
Caroline McKay, Teacher, Lakeland Ridge, 780-416-9018
Laura McNabb, Director, Communication Services, EIPS 780-417-8204 cell 780-405-4902