There was purple as far as the eye could see at University High School on Tuesday, Nov. 17. Hundreds of students and faculty members donned their purple ribbons – some even wore purple clothes – as the school commemorated World Prematurity Day and the hard work of the March of Dimes Year of Service group.
Abby Wyant, a sophomore at University High School and member of the March of Dimes group, aspired to make an impact on her community and raise awareness about premature birth for her Year of Service project, but she never expected her idea to impact quite so many people.
“I definitely did not expect as many people to join the group as they did,” said Wyant. “And I was really happy when we raised dimes on World Prematurity Day.”
In addition to distributing purple ribbons on World Prematurity Day, the group also asked students and teachers to donate dimes to support the March of Dimes organization. Some students brought bags full of dimes to donate to the cause. The effort raised over $200, and the group donated it all to March of Dimes.
A Cause That Hits Close to Home
According to March of Dimes, “about 380,000 babies are born prematurely every year in the United States.” While a normal pregnancy term is 40 weeks, anything less than 36 weeks is considered premature. For Wyant, this Year of Service group hit especially close to home. Wyant’s oldest brother passed away from complications due to premature birth, and all of Wyant’s siblings, including herself, were born early.
Another UHS community member, Adrianne Glidewell Smith, Director of Annual Fund & Alumni Relations, is the mom of two boys who were born premature. Truman was born at 34 weeks and was in the NICU for two weeks, and Harrison was born at 29 weeks and was in the NICU for 11 weeks.
“We gave a really meaningful presentation at the school where Adrianne talked about her experience being the mother of two premature babies,” said Maddy MacAllister, faculty coordinator of the March of Dimes group.
Spreading the Love
Another project idea the group had was to help the families going through NICU stays feel like they are supported and comfortable in the hospital. To do this, UHS students created care packages that included nicer soaps, lotions, and other necessities. They also spent an afternoon baking cookies for families at IU Health, and they plan to do the same for St. Vincent families before the school year ends.
The March of Dimes group also completed these projects:
- Designed informational posters about premature birth
- Created a video discussing premature birth
- Wrote a grant to get funding for welcome gifts for the patients
Fourteen other students joined Wyant in the opportunity to dive into a cause they were passionate about and make an impact on their community with the help of MacAllister and Director of Admission Nancy Webster. According to Webster, through research and active participation, students were able to learn and educate others on the importance of prenatal care.
What’s Next for the March of Dimes Group?
Next up for the March of Dimes group is the March for Babies in Indianapolis on May 14.
Each member plans to motivate at least one outside person to participate in the March for Babies event. They also hope that the awareness will continue to grow throughout the community and get an even bigger response next year.
About Year of Service
University High School’s Year of Service is a school-wide program intended to teach students about authentic, sustainable, long-term service that makes a significant impact. There are three levels of participation for students:
- Level 100 (such as the March of Dimes group) is for younger students and focuses on direct service
- Level 200 is for upperclassmen and focuses on a community issue
- Level 300 is a service leadership track and includes participation in the Jefferson Foundation Awards Students in Action program