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World Prematurity Day – The Little Miracles Trust

Thanks to the Little Miracles Trust, a record number of 45+ iconic NZ landmarks and buildings will be lit up purple alongside international landmarks like the Empire State Building, the Trevi Fountain and Niagara Falls, joining a campaign for World Prematurity Day on 17 November.

Purple is the international colour for prematurity and World Prematurity Day is celebrated on 17 November each year. The aim is to raise awareness of prematurity and the concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide. Infants born preterm represent the largest child patient group. This year The Little Miracles Trust will be organising a number of activities based around World Prematurity Day, including:

Thanking our neonatal nurses 

As part of our World Prematurity Day celebrations, we’re co-ordinating volunteers to help us provide morning or afternoon teas for all the neonatal units throughout New Zealand. We’ll be providing purple balloons, streamers, tablecloths, etc.

Sharing personal stories – Giving hope & encouragement and raising awareness 

Neonatal journeys can be full of stress and anxiety. Due to this, providing hope and encouragement to parents on a neonatal journey is key. We receive a lot of positive feedback from families in a neonatal unit who read the stories we help to share and feel more understood and less alone.

And, Lighting Up Purple 

This is the seventh time New Zealand has taken part in the ‘Lighting Up Purple’ campaign, which is designed to raise awareness of the 15 million babies born prematurely worldwide each year, and the one million of these babies who sadly lose their fight for life.

New Zealand’s campaign is headed by the Little Miracles Trust, who provide support and resources for the whānau of premature and unwell babies across Aotearoa.

“We’re here to make a difficult start to life that little bit easier” says Rachel Friend, CEO at the Little Miracles Trust. “It’s a time that no one is prepared for. A time when you need someone who knows what you’re going through to tell you it’s going to be alright. Someone who can give you the kind of support that will make all the difference.”

“We are incredibly grateful for the support we receive and the willingness of these incredible landmarks and our supporters to get involved. It’s just another example of the overwhelming kindness the Aotearoa community gives to charities.”

Many Kiwi are personally affected, or have friends and family who have experienced premature births, or had a sick baby require specialist care.

“It’s an issue which affects a significant amount of our population, and we are excited to see the communities get behind our campaign” she adds.

The team at the Little Miracles Trust have worked throughout the year to encourage uptake of the ‘Lighting Up Purple’ cause and this year for the first time the iconic Castlepoint Lighthouse will be joining other well-known New Zealand landmarks such as Eden Park and the Bucket Fountain in Wellingtons Cuba Mall. Also lighting up purple are the Michael Fowler Centre and the Cable Car in Wellington, Auckland’s Maritime Museum, Hamilton’s Anzac Parade Bridge, Christchurch International Airport and Control Tower as well as many town Clock Towers, sculptures, and fountains.

And because we’re the first country in the world to see the sun each day, New Zealand sets off the wave of purple light around the world.

Well-known radio personalities and prem baby parents, Sharyn & Bryce Casey sum up what the Little Miracles Trust do to support parents. Bruce says, “They perform little miracles every day for the parents and for the whānau who are going through what’s an incredibly tough time.”

For Sharyn, it was those daily little miracles that made a real difference to what was an incredibly stressful time. “There’s things that you wouldn’t even think of. Like the day you arrive in the NICU, they drop off a care package full of things that you need. They help you with a breast pump, they have all these incredible resources, and they even give you books for your children at home, if you have them, on how to explain what’s going on. They gave me a green tea bag when I was having a bad day. Just so many things. Their support was just indescribable.”

A premature baby is born every 90 minutes on average in Aotearoa. That’s more than 5,000 or 10 percent of all babies each year who have to go through a Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU). In addition to premature babies, sick full-term babies are cared for in neonatal units. The complications these babies face are often only apparent once the baby is born.


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