Emma wanted her Girl Scout Silver Award project to be something that was close to her heart. After brainstorming different ideas, Emma found the perfect cause. She would provide Niswonger Children’s Hospital with incubator covers for babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
The covers are heavy blankets that help block out light and sound from bothering a NICU baby in an incubator, a closed bed that keep babies in a controlled environment.
Emma understood what it was like for families of NICU babies; her younger sister spent time in the NICU after she was born.
“I wanted the best for whoever was there now,” said Emma.
She reached out to the hospital about her project idea and found out that they could use the blankets; in fact, no one had wanted to take on that project. Niswonger is one of only five state-designated Perinatal Centers in Tennessee and treats about 650 babies in their NICU each year.
Starting in the spring of 2017, Emma began fundraising so she could buy the supplies needed to make the blankets. The blankets were made with fabric and extra stuffing inside to help block out additional light and noise. To fund her project, Emma also applied for the Joyce Maienschein Leadership Grant and was awarded $250 to go toward her project.
In the end, Emma donated 10 reusable incubator covers to the children’s hospital and raised more money than she needed for those blankets, so she bought the hospital bibs, sippy cups, and other supplies. She went into the store with $260 and walked out with only $0.16 in her pocket!
“It’s great to know you’re helping someone in need because it’s so heartwarming,” Emma said. “I learned many different things, but I think most of all I really love is helping these people because when I did it, it was just so overwhelming and great to feel like you helped someone.”
From this experience, Emma discovered what she’d like to be when she grows up.
“I want to become a pediatrician,” she said. “I always knew that I wanted to do something in the medical field. I love children, so this sort of opened my eyes a little bit.”