Tiny superheroes slumbered throughout the Franciscan Health Indianapolis’ neonatal intensive care unit.
A baby dressed as Batman was held in his mother’s arms. Nearby, another child had on a green cape decorated like a turtle. Harper Graham, a 4-week-old baby, wore a ladybug cape.
Even these newborns in the NICU will have a chance to celebrate Halloween, thanks to some service-minded Girl Scouts from Greenwood.
“We thought it might bring joy to the parents to see their children in these costumes, that there were people who put thought into making them for their babies,” said Nicole Schneider, a member of Girl Scout Troop 341. “It makes me feel really happy that we’re bringing joy to families and bringing them hope.”
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Members of Troop 341, based at Our Lady of the Greenwood Catholic Church, have spent more than a month designing and decorating minuscule costumes for babies. Using felt and glue, the girls made a variety of designs, from Wonder Woman to a bee to butterflies.
Their hope was to bring some joy to a stressful and difficult time for new parents, said Robbie Schneider, one of the leaders of Troop 341.
“Our girls have always done projects that are about helping others, no matter how young or how old,” she said. “When you’re going through such a difficult time watching your little one struggle through the first days, weeks or even months of life, just having that little bit of normalcy of a baby’s first Halloween hopefully makes a little bit of a difference.”
Girl Scout Troop 341 is made up of sixth- and seventh-graders who meet at Our Lady of the Greenwood. The troop does a number of enrichment and educational programs but focuses on service projects throughout the year.
They have made jewelry to help raise money for scholarship funds for girls in Haiti, put together supply bags for homeless teens and hosted a shoe drive for families in Henryville after the devastating tornadoes of 2012.
The idea for the NICU baby costumes stemmed from a similar project Schneider had read about in Kansas City, Missouri. She suggested it to the Girl Scouts, and they were excited to start it.
“Our leader told us about it, and we thought it would be really cool to do for the preemie babies at the hospital here,” said Emily Murrey, a member of Troop 341. “It’s really cool that we were able to do something for our community.”
Schneider connected with officials in the Women and Children’s facility at Franciscan Health Indianapolis to work out the details of making the costumes.
Starting in early September, troop members spent their weekly meetings putting together the costumes. They were joined by members of Junior Troop 1173, made up of fourth- and fifth-graders.
To accommodate all of the lifesaving tubes and wires that infants in the NICU have attached to them, the decorated capes were open on the sides and front, and could be easily taken on and off.
“We took some cloth and cut out pictures, and then pasted them all together,” said Angelina Waterman, a member of Troop 1173. “It was really fun to get together and do this.”
For some of the Girl Scouts, the project had special meaning. Mia Kennedy’s brother was admitted to the NICU for the first four months of his life, so the family knew what a stressful and worrisome time that can be.
Her mother, Mary Kennedy, shared her thoughts about what the Scouts had done in a Facebook post.
“It makes me recall the many acts of kindness that we were the recipients of when our son, Nicholas, was in the NICU for the first four months of his life. It’s so awesome that my daughter and these girls are giving a sense of normalcy to the families who are enduring the ups and downs of parenting these little ones,” she wrote.
Leading up to Halloween, nurses in the Franciscan Health Indianapolis NICU will pass out the costumes to babies who are admitted there. Families will be able to choose from a variety of designs and then take the costume home when they leave.
“Those sort of things are wonderful keepsakes for the parents,” Schneider said.