How young fan of read­ing in­spired li­brary for hos­pi­tal’s in­ten­sive care

Times Colonist - - The Capital - JEFF BELL

At 15 months old, Quin­ton Bowler is al­ready a big fan of read­ing.

“The first thing that Quin­ton does in the morn­ing, af­ter his bot­tle, is point at the book­shelf and he de­mands his post­break­fast book,” dad Cameron Bowler said with a smile.

He and wife Caitlin Brown are grate­ful for Quin­ton’s health af­ter he spent the first seven weeks of his life in the neona­tal in­ten­sive care unit at Vic­to­ria Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, the re­sult of be­ing born with his liver out­side his body. Three surg­eries fol­lowed.

They wanted to show their thanks to the staff, who sug­gested a li­brary pro­gram would fill a need.

NICU man­ager Gil­lian Kozinka said the li­brary idea hit home for the cou­ple “be­cause it’s a very strong value of their fam­ily and they re­ally love read­ing to Quin­ton.

“I’m just proud and priv­i­leged to work with fam­i­lies that are giv­ing back to the NICU and want to help fu­ture fam­i­lies that go through this kind of jour­ney with us here at VGH.”

The fam­ily do­na­tion, an­nounced Fri­day at the hos­pi­tal, has led to the cre­ation of the Lit­tle War­riors Li­brary, which will give books to fam­i­lies whose chil­dren have been in NICU.

“The care that Quin­ton re­ceived was noth­ing short of amaz­ing and we just wanted to find a way to give back,” Cameron Bowler said. “For his first birth­day, we col­lected do­na­tions on his be­half and this is the re­sult.”

Mon­e­tary do­na­tions from fam­ily and friends to­talled $1,000. Many books were col­lected, as well.

Brown said it is a “small to­ken of our ap­pre­ci­a­tion” to the NICU.

About 530 in­fants from Van­cou­ver Is­land and around the prov­ince are treated in the unit each year, with an av­er­age stay last­ing 15 days.

“We hope these books can help fu­ture par­ents of the NICU and chil­dren of the NICU to get a lit­tle closer.”

Kozinka said read­ing to ba­bies can be a pow­er­ful tool.

“Read­ing to their ba­bies is go­ing to be such a long-term valu­able gift in their long-term de­vel­op­ment,” she said.

“But it also brings par­ents and ba­bies to­gether right from the get-go whilst they’re in an NICU en­vi­ron­ment.”

Bowler said hav­ing a child in the NICU can be an in­cred­i­bly stress­ful time, and that it can be dif­fi­cult to bond with your child when they’re in an in­cu­ba­tor.

He said that’s where read­ing can make a dif­fer­ence and help in cre­at­ing a con­nec­tion. “It just made sense, the whole book pro­gram.”

Cameron Bowler and Caitlin Brown with their son, Quin­ton, at the Lit­tle War­riors Li­brary in Vic­to­ria Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal.

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