A group of Kappa Delta (KD) sorority sisters from the University of Washington (UW) and an elderly knitting group at a retirement home in Seattle might seem like an unexpected duo but together they’re perfectly aligned in their missions. Every year, these two very different groups do their part to help support ending child abuse, a reality that unfortunately affects millions of children each year.
Raising money for newborns
Inside the KD sorority house on UW’s campus, a group is gathered together chatting. The topic isn’t what someone might expect to overhear from a group of 18-year-old young women. Instead of talking about relationships and homework, they’re hard at work planning the sorority’s 20th annual auction to support Seattle Children’s Protection, Advocacy & Outreach Program and Prevent Child Abuse America.
Since partnering with Seattle Children’s in 2009, the KD sorority has raised more than $300,000 for the program, which helps parents of newborns in Washington learn about infant crying and recommended coping skills before they leave the hospital through a video-based training program called “Period of PURPLE Crying.”
“The auction is entirely student run,” said Nicole Braman, chair of the promotion and outreach committee at KD. “We’re really passionate about the impact we’re making. It’s unfair; child abuse doesn’t have to happen. We take pride in knowing what we’re doing is making a difference in the community, and supporting families.”
The PURPLE training was developed and tested by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. It aims to reduce abusive head trauma, previously referred to as shaken baby syndrome, and other traumatic injuries in infants that occur when frustrated, sleep-deprived caregivers lose control when a baby cries, or wails uncontrollably. Research shows that prolonged crying is the number one reason caregivers shake a baby. There are an estimated 1,200-1,400 cases of abusive head trauma each year, according to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Research has also shown that understanding the normal pattern of infant crying and learning coping skills can significantly reduce the likelihood that a child will be shaken or abused. PURPLE provides a resource to help parents feel more educated and supported before leaving the hospital. The PURPLE materials are currently being distributed to 76% of families of newborns across Washington state.
“The most common thing I hear from new parents is how relieved they were to have the information about crying,” said Christine Baker, Period of PURPLE Crying Program Coordinator. “Just knowing that it’s normal to be frustrated and what to do, can change everything in those first few weeks and months.”
Since 1981, the national KD sorority has been a supporter of Prevent Child Abuse America, an organization which was founded by a KD sister. To date, KD has donated more than $15 million to help prevent child abuse in the U.S., and the UW chapter has raised more money than any other chapter nationally, with 80% of their fundraising efforts going toward Seattle Children’s.
This year, the local chapter is hoping to raise more than $100,000 for Seattle Children’s during their annual fundraiser on Feb. 20 at the Westin in Bellevue, Wash.
“It’s a really special, rewarding night for us,” said Braman.
A cozy, little reminder
Only 10 miles from UW’s campus, at The Garden Club, a retirement home located in Bellevue, Wash., another group of women sit together chatting. This group, however, is surrounded by heaps of purple yarn. Each woman has a pile of tiny knitted purple hats lying on the table in front of her. As their needles criss and cross, their hands move meticulously until another crocheted hat is complete. The hats are part of a grassroots knitting campaign grown from an initiative of the National Center for Shaken Baby syndrome.
The purple hats are given to caregivers during the months of November and December to babies born in hospitals in Washington state that offer PURPLE education as a gentle reminder that crying is normal for babies.
The hats are a simple symbol that can have a huge impact when a parent may find the relentless crying of their child to be overwhelming, and they need to remember the invaluable coping skills they learned from the PURPLE program.
One cause, two different groups
Together, these two groups of women, both young and old, are contributing in a big way to end child abuse. Each year, these inspiring women do their individual parts to show their support for new moms and dads in a special way.
To donate hats, send them to Seattle Children’s, Attn: Click for Babies/MS M2-10/, 4800 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105. Interested in attending the event? Tickets are available here.