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Kiwanis brings a world of imagination to kids at children's hospital in Indiana

Sarah Moreland Byrne | Jan 17, 2019

A book about dinosaurs was donated to a children's hospital

2018-19 Kiwanis International President-elect Daniel Vigneron sits with a statueNibbles the Monster, Ellie the Elephant and Paddington the Bear are among the latest characters to inspire the imaginations of young patients at Riley Hospital for Children, thanks to a donation of more than 800 books from Kiwanis and its partner Scholastic.

Daniel Vigneron, Kiwanis International president-elect from Howald, Luxembourg, joined Indiana District Governor-elect Kevin Rowland and Patrick Cucci, director of literacy initiatives at Scholastic, Inc., to donate the books at the Indianapolis hospital’s Edward A. Block Library. In addition to Scholastic’s donation, Vigneron provided books selected by the 2018-19 class of Kiwanis governors-elect, given from countries across the globe to bring the world to the hospital’s young patients.

Riley Hospital for Children, a Children’s Miracle Network hospital which sees 300,000 visits per year, has given away an average of 28,000 books a year to its patients in the past. That number – and need – is growing.

“Reading is an important way for parents to connect with their child when they’re here,” says Tracy Miller, director of Riley patient experience.  

The library offers a sense of calm in chaos too, says hospital librarian Dena Vincent, referring to studies about the effects of reading in times of stress.  

“It’s been shown that, more than music therapy, reading helps calm a child, and their parents too,” Vincent says.  

That’s why Scholastic and Kiwanis partnered for the book donation.

“We’ve got to make reading enjoyable. We’ve got to make it accessible. And that’s a passion for us,” says Cucci.  

Kiwanis and Riley Hospital have a long history. In the 100 years since Kiwanis members raised money to help build the hospital in 1919, the Indiana District of Kiwanis has funded multiple initiatives, most recently training more doctors and nurses in autism evaluations. Before the “Three Wishes: Early Action for Autism” initiative, it could take a year before a child was seen by a specialist. Now, that wait is six to eight weeks, says Amber Miller, associations and Radiothon coordinator for Riley Children’s Foundation. And that shorter timeframe could mean a dramatic increase in quality of life for the child.

But it’s more than just money. Kiwanis members volunteer to read to children at the hospital and run the “Kiwanis Komfort Kart,” a dresser-turned-cart filled with essentials for parents staying with their children: blankets, neck pillows, toothpaste, snacks, slipper socks and journals.   

Learn more about Kiwanis’ history with Riley Hospital for Children, and follow a family’s Riley journey when their young daughter needed a life-saving kidney transplant.

Children at the hospital can choose from this pile of books

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