By Amanda Tuzzo
Could you imagine going into labor three weeks (or even three months) earlier than expected? In the United States alone, over 380,000 babies are born prematurely each year, putting them at risk for both immediate and long-term health issues such as Cerebral palsy, chronic lung disease, intellectual disabilities, blindness, and hearing loss. If that’s not enough to convince you that premature birth is a major issue in the U.S., then listen to this: premature birth is the number one cause of death in babies in the United States.
Thankfully, organizations like the March of Dimes, which works to reduce the incidence of premature births in the United States by raising money and awareness for this cause, exist! The March of Dimes has led the way in discovering the genetic causes of birth defects, promoting newborn screening and educating medical professionals and the public about the best practices for healthy pregnancies. The rising incidence of premature birth has demanded action, and the March of Dimes has responded by initiating a year-round active campaign to raise awareness to combat prematurity.
The March of Dimes Club at BHHS, started by Hayley Siegle, is full of dedicated students, who are committed to making a difference. The club has begun educating others about this cause and advocating to help achieve the goal of the March of Dimes campaign: “[to save] babies together, one step at a time.” Through many community projects, the club has already made a difference!
Though it has only been four months since the March of Dimes club was founded at BHHS, it is already booming! The club began the year with a bake sale at the Bobcat Run, an annual cross country meet at Byram Hills High School, raising $350! This money was used to purchase goods such as premie clothing, bottles, diapers, toiletries, and snacks to donate to local neonatal intensive care units at Northern Westchester Hospital, White Plains Hospital, and St. Lawrence Hospital. In November, the club began a drive collecting these same types of goods to add to their collection, which was delivered to hospitals at the end of November, also known as Prematurity Awareness Month.
Imagine being a new mom, who has spent days, weeks, or even months in the hospital, standing over their child’s incubator, hoping that they will live to see another day. Though nothing major, these small and simple donations can truly make a difference. Many times, all it takes is a knowing that you have a support system to get you through these challenging times. The March of Dimes at BHHS showed their support this past November, and we know that with the help of the community, we can make an even greater impact!
The March of Dimes Club is new to Byram Hills but is surely making a difference. If you missed the takeoff, get involved in another way! Spread awareness – talk to your friends and family about their mission; donate – even a dime can go a long way; and of course, join the club; the more the merrier! Be sure to join us on Sunday, April 29 at Saxon Woods to march for the babies!