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Washington Academy donate story books to Newcastle NICU this World Prematurity Day

Local students knit hats for premature babies

Students from Washington Academy, part of Consilium Academies, are marking World Prematurity Day this year after being on a year-long funding mission to help premature babies and their parents. 

World Prematurity Day, held on the 17th of November, is a global movement to raise awareness of premature birth and the impact it can have on families.  For every 13 babies born in the UK, one baby is born premature, this can mean an extended hospital stay for them which can be challenging and upsetting for parents. 

During a visit last year from Tiny Lives, a charity linked to Newcastle’s RVI hospital’s Neonatal intensive care unit,  the students learned about the units and how they are run, and how small items such as a card with footprints in can mean so much to a parent, when that may be the only card some may ever receive from their baby. The students viewed items from the unit, including credit card size nappies and dummies, and heard more about how reading to the babies can help bonding, promote parental mental health and allow parents to be a parent in the unit and not just a visitor.

Students later found out they were successful in a funding bid from the local council area committee for ‘crafty cuppas’.  The students linked with local craft groups to learn skills such as knitting hats, embroidery, card making and more to make items for fundraising, and for donating into the units. 

Following this, the school provided 40 packs of books, keepsake bookmarks, pram signs and bonding squares and hats to three NICU units back on World Book Day in March. The signs and bookmarks were made with support from a Washington parent, Lea Scott, who has her own keepsakes business. She gave up her time for a full day to come into school and make these with the students.

The students have carried out a variety of fundraising activities over the year to place libraries into our three local neonatal units so parents can read to their babies when they are not well enough to be held.  The school is just about to start delivering their next batch of books in advance of the festive season, kindly provided by Sunderland’s Library Services.

Nicola Williamson, Community Engagement Officer at Washington Academy said:

“As a mother of a very tiny, poorly baby who spent time in the NICU in 2018, there were days she was not well enough to be held.  Reading a bedtime story to her before I had to leave each evening was the sole thing I was able to do which made me feel like a mother and not a visitor.”

Louise Carroll,  Tiny Lives Community and Events Fundraiser said:

“It was our pleasure to go along to Washington Academy and talk to the students about Tiny Lives and the work we do to support the families and babies who have experienced time on the Neonatal Unit at the RVI.

 “It was lovely to hear how the students are working together with hopes to work with the wider community on their projects with the possibility of fundraising for Tiny Lives. We can’t thank the students enough for their enthusiasm and for kindly choosing to support Tiny Lives.”  

Victoria Carter, Headteacher at Washington Academy said:

“I am so proud of everything Washington students have done to support premature babies and their parents locally through fundraising and donating items to neonatal intensive care units.  It’s so moving to hear the feedback from parents about how much this support means to them and I hope the students' work will help raise awareness this World Prematurity Day.”