Prematurity is one of the leading causes of long-term health challenges and death among newborns. Despite this fact, community-based services geared towards aiding those afflicted by the effects of prematurity are underrepresented in Canada.
Nicole Lyons quickly discovered the lack of support and resources first hand when she gave birth to her son in 2012 at 33 weeks gestation. She didn’t know what to expect and friends and family members struggled to understand the unique challenges of having a child born too soon.
In early 2014, other parents began to reach out to Nicole and sharing their hospital stay experience. This quickly led to the start of an online support group and support packages being delivered to parents at the hospitals in Ottawa. Spreading by word of mouth, parents of premature children were drawn to the group because of the need for ongoing support and the promise of a group of people who understood their struggles and triumphs. By September 2014, what had started as a small peer-based support group led to the development of what is now the Parents of Preemies Association (PoPA), a registered not-for-profit organization.
Parents of Preemies Association’s (PoPA) goal is to create a community-based support network for local parents of premature children. As Nicole and so many other parents have discovered, prematurity does not end when a child is discharged from the NICU. Common issues for premature babies after discharge from the hospital include respiratory illnesses, asthma, vision and hearing loss, developmental delays, and learning disabilities. PoPA aims to assist parents from the birth of their child and beyond.
In order to expand the valuable support PoPA offers to families of premature children, the organization has entered the Aviva Community Fund Contest. This is a nation-wide competition that offers winners grants to assist in their cause. In order to vote, check out https://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf19502 . Voters must register and are then able to vote daily in each round of the competition.
Monies raised through the Aviva Community Fund will help PoPA meet the needs of families across the Ottawa region by allowing volunteers to expand on the work they’ve started and develop additional resources and set up much needed programming.
Currently PoPA offers their Present for Preemies program (which provides a package for new parents with a child in the hospital), their online support group and a website that acts as an information hub for parents of premature children and their families. The hope is, that with the funds that would be won in the Aviva competition, PoPA would expand their programming to include the following:
- Caiden’s Library – a bilingual in-house library in the NICUs of the Ottawa General Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Due to health and sanitation requirements, books must be hardboard books and replaced quarterly
- Monthly meet-ups – a way for parents throughout the city to connect with others
- Awareness events – PoPA will host three annual awareness events,BBQ celebration for local families (summer), Parent of Preemies Day (May) and World Prematurity Day (November)
- Community programming – community programming for parents of high-risk infants and children including handling common stressors associated with a child’s NICU stay and when bringing home their baby; preemie feeding issues and strategies; breastfeeding a preemie; developmental and speech issues; car seat instruction; and, support for preemies with special needs and long-term difficulties;
- Bereavement support program – the development of a much needed bereavement support program to help support families who have recently suffered a lost and celebrate the lives of our smallest heroes no matter how long or short a time they shared with their families
By supporting PoPA, you are participating in a positive change within our community. With your support, PoPA can create a strong peer-led, support-based association to enhance these families’ lives.
PoPA is also hosting its first major event association in collaboration with the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation (CPBF), The Ottawa Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Special Care Nursery and CHEO. World Prematurity Day is Monday, November 17th and PoPA invites all of the local community to join them at the General Campus of the Ottawa Hospital for this fun family event. From 3pm to 8 pm, the focus will be on celebrating NICU graduates, their families and the amazing hospital staff that helped them during their fragile beginnings!
PLEASE SHOW YOUR SUPPORT BY VOTING DAILY UNTIL OCTOBER 13th!