I gave birth to my first son at 27 weeks gestation weighing 1140 grams. It was a journey unique to us especially being first time parents. We received endless support from our family & friends along the way but something was missing, that feeling of common knowledge & understanding from other parents who truly knew what we had just faced with our son.
As a mum, I felt a need to reach out to other parents so one year after our NICU journey ended, L’il Aussie Prems was launched to provide families with an interactive online community that they can access anywhere anytime. The website provides families with information, inspiration and resources as well as the support needed through each stage of a premmie baby’s growth.
It was in late January 2011 when an idea was put forward to the members of, L’il Aussie Prems. The idea was being shaped into what has now become the websites annual event called `Wear Green for Premmies`. The inaugural event was held last year on Wednesday 6th April as a day to celebrate, raise awareness about prematurity & also raise funds for support groups including our own online community through the sales of wristbands sporting various premmie support messages chosen by the members.
Attendees did not attend a physical event but simply signed up to a Facebook event and encouraged family and friends to wear something green to show their support. Last year’s event attracted around 19,600 attendees, something we had not anticipated. The event page encompassed a sea of green on the day with 100’s of photos being posted by attendees wearing green t-shirts, hats, pants, ties, shoes, wristbands and even post-it notes. Over 2,000 wristbands were sold through the website in four weeks, with international orders from Ireland, United States, United Kingdom and Canada which enabled L’il Aussie Prems to donate $2,300 to five charities.
After the resounding success of the first `Wear Green for Premmies` day, the Facebook event page was launched again in January this year in an effort to reach as many families as possible in the lead up to this year’s event being held on Wednesday the 4th April 2012. This year, hospitals around the country are encouraged to support the day by going green. We are pleased to be celebrating alongside three major hospitals based in three separate states. Word has spread through social networks of the fantastic work being done to raise funds in support of a further five charities this year which the members have chosen. Our day is supported by many wonderful businesses, support groups & Facebook pages alike and attendees of the event are also encouraged to fundraise on the day in support of the National Premmie Foundation. It is a simple event where anyone who has been touched by a premature birth can join in and celebrate.
As the founder of L’il Aussie Prems, I am extremely happy to see the `Wear Green for Premmies` event become such a success in such a short time and hopefully with the support of everyone involved and the love of my son driving me forward, it’s success will continue to grow.
For more information, and to show your support of the upcoming event on Wednesday the 4th April, visit the official ‘Wear Green for Premmies’ event page on Facebook or purchase a wristband for the entire family via the L’il Aussie Prems website or at participating online stores.
Julia Toivonen lives in Melbourne and is a busy mum of three kids. She is the Vice President of the National Premmie Foundation.