Who knew something as simple as empty ice cream containers could mean so much to premature and unwell babies?
Waikato Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit charge nurse manager Christine Woolerton and Women’s Health associate charge midwife manager Gina Chaney know all too well, and have come up with a plan to keep the unit in constant supply.
As a Girl Guiding New Zealand district coordinator, Gina has called on the help of more than 650 Pippins, Brownies, Guides and Rangers in the Waikato to collect their ice cream containers, which are used to contain breast expressing kits that are used by 1000 mums at Waikato Hospital every year.
“I saw the call for ice cream containers go out over the Waikato DHB intranet and thought it would be a great way to keep a constant supply up to help the unit, and double as a fantastic community action project for Girl Guiding to give back to their community,” said Gina.
“Because our babies are generally too young and too weak to breastfeed, we encourage regular expressing by our mums so the babies are able to get the ￼benefits of breast milk in those early days, weeks and months,” said Christine.
“Mums express every three hours, and the kits need to be sterilised in between feeds so the ice cream containers are the perfect, low cost option.”
Gina, who is the leader of Papawai (the Morrinsville/Te Aroha Girl Guiding area), said she knew their group wouldn’t be able to generate enough containers so she put the call out throughout the Waikato Region and after the leaders’ monthly regional meetings, the ice cream containers end up at her house and then come into work with her.
She said even the youngest members understand that eating ice cream will help the babies, even though they don’t understand the intricacies or importance of expressing breast milk.
“We started collecting the containers in February and will just continue to do so. It’s a good, sustainable method,” she said.
“And I’m pretty sure the girls don’t mind eating the ice cream, either.”
For more information about New Zealand Girl Guides, visit www.girlguidingnz.org.nz
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