Let me introduce you to Matilda, Oliver, Amelia and Charlie.
These four tiny creatures are the new companions to premature babies throughout their journey while in hospital, and hopefully, they will also become that very special toy once home.
The Octo Project originated in Denmark in February of 2013, where they found the octopus comforted babies and calmed them as the tentacles of Octo resemble the umbilical cord and remind the babies of their time in the womb. This results in better breathing and more regular heartbeats as well as higher levels of oxygen in their blood. Babies cuddling an octopus were also less likely to try to pull out their monitors and tubes.
The project which was set a year ago has been very successful and the hospitals are now desperately asking for more of these creatures to be sent to them.
When we first started the project, we did some extensive research and spoke to various NeoNatal units to make sure that the materials used, colours of yarn and size of the octopi where the adequate for the tiny babies. We learned that in many occasions hospitals wouldn't be able to give the octopi they have received to the babies as these didn't pass the quality control due to the size of the octopi or the yarn used to make them not being appropriate.
Therefore, we went to the extend of creating 'kits' where everything that it's needed to make an octopus is included in the kit; the yarn, pattern, hook, needle and the filling. We have found that by giving volunteers everything they need we make sure that the quality is consistent and so no octopi is left behind.
With all the donations we have received during the course of the past year, we have offered free kits to crochet groups and individuals who were willing to volunteer to make these creatures so they could be donated to Neonatal Units. Unfortunately we have now run out of funds.
We are now calling for help so we can continue with this important work.
The funds will be used to purchase more materials and continue to run the project successfully. We want to continue to be able to provide volunteers with free kits so premature babies can have the opportunity to have these special creatures accompanying them on their journey ahead.
The positive feedback that we have been receiving from the hospitals and the parents its overwhelming. Parents have written to us explaining how much their preemies have benefited from having an octopus with them since they don't pull their tubes as most of them very naturally grab onto the tentacles.
Some parents with premature children themselves have been involved with the project and have explained how wonderful it has felt to be able to give back to other premature babies and parents by crocheting or donating.
We cannot of course forget about the volunteers whom very unselfishly have crocheted these creatures to make a difference and themselves have found the experience extremely rewarding.
Let's not stop here, so please help us to continue with this journey.