Two Brown Hill mums, who were strangers until recently, have been volunteering for the 'Life’s Little Treasures Foundation' to support the parents of sick and premature babies. Coincidentally, they live less than a kilometre apart and their babies were born within months of each other, all prematurely.
Samantha Prowse, whose twin daughters were born at 32 weeks, is organising the second 'Walk for Prems' to be held in Ballarat on Sunday 28 October 2018 as a major fundraiser for the foundation.
Louise Jones, whose son was born at 29 weeks, is helping with 'Treasure Time', a free playgroup supporting families who have had stays in the Special Care Nursery (SCN) or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
In Australia one in ten babies are born prematurely, meaning they are born before 37 weeks gestation (full term is 40 weeks). Fifteen percent of all babies born in Australia require support in an SCN or NICU.
It is due to this commonality that Samantha and Louise met.
“We were volunteering individually for the same organisation,. It just made sense to work more closely and cross-promote our events,” said Louise. “I attended the Walk last year when Samantha first brought it to Ballarat, so it’s been great to have each other for support and it’s funny that we live so close and our children are so close in age. They go to the same local daycare and could end up at school together.”
As Brown Hill residents, Samantha says they built and moved here before having their daughters, but her husband Trav has been a long- term resident. Louise and husband Mark are also long-term residents.
“We love the area,” says Samantha. “We go to the park and are looking forward to walks and bike rides along the river as our girls get a bit older. It’s great having a bigger house block to play on. Brown Hill gives us close proximity to town, without the hustle and bustle.”
“Having a big public and private hospital in Ballarat, both with a Special Care Nursery, we not only have our own residents, but cater for many people from small rural towns who have had premature babies. If babies are born after 32 weeks, they can stay in Ballarat, but before 32 weeks, they have to go to Melbourne,” explains Samantha. “It’s great that they can come to Ballarat and avoid the big-city stress.”
“When I saw the 'Walk for Prems' happening in Melbourne a few years ago, I thought it would be beneficial to local and rural families to have it here in Ballarat. After a few phone calls, it was on! This is the ninth year for the walk nationally and the second year in Ballarat.”
“We had around 200 participants last year and we are aiming for more this year. So far, numbers are up on this time last year, so it’s looking good!” says Samantha excitedly.
All funds raised from the Walk go towards services, events and resources that support families in the SCN and NICU right around Australia, including here in Ballarat. 'Life’s Little Treasures Foundation' organise social and educational events for parents while their baby is in hospital, provide educational resources to parents, families and professionals and many other services, such as gift bags for new parents and the 'Treasure Time' playgroup.
The wonderful line up of entertainment at the 2018 'Walk for Prems' includes: live music, coffee, jumping castles, a face painter, Ballarat Zumba, colouring pages, plaster painting, food vans and an SES BBQ. Over 40 raffle prizes have kindly been donated.
Anyone is welcome to register for the Walk. A short ceremony remembering the angels who passed due to premature birth is also an important and emotional part of the walk; these families are welcomed and encouraged to attend.
For registration and more information, visit: walkforprems.org.au
'Treasure Time' is held on the fourth Thursday of each month (except October which will be the third Thursday) at Eastwood Leisure Complex, from 10.30 am to 12.00 noon. For more, visit: lifeslittletreasures.org.au
Louise Jones, 'Treasure Time' Playgroup Coordinator
Life's Little Treasures Foundation volunteers, Louise (with Jimmy) and Samantha (with Madelyn), at Brown Hill Reserve. Image supplied by Louise Jones.