May 10, 2017 8:55 pm
Updated: May 10, 2017 9:27 pm

Edmonton school’s pyjama project brings comfort to sick babies and their parents

WATCH ABOVE: When kids are in hospital, parents often struggle with how to keep their family life as normal as possible. Su-Ling Goh looks at how an Edmonton teacher and their students are trying to make a difference with pyjamas.

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When Ashley Goldsack and Manahil Athar enrolled in their Grade 10 fashion program, they didn’t expect to be sewing baby sleepers. But after a few days on the assignment, it all made sense.

“It’s stuff we have to learn already,” Goldsack said, “so if we can help people and help families while doing that, I think that’s really nice.”

“I can connect with people and just know I’m doing something to help them out,” Athar added.


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The project was borne thanks to the birth of Frazer MacDairmid, the son of W.P. Wagner High School science teacher, Allan MacDairmid.

“The day after (Frazer) was born, he was listed for a heart transplant,” MacDairmid said.

The baby had a congenital heart defect. In May of 2011, he was hooked to various intravenous and monitoring lines in the hospital, which made dressing him difficult.

Since seeing Frazer in cute sleepers gave the family comfort, MacDairmid’s mother added snaps to the pyjama sleeves to fit around the cords.

“You can kind of cover up all the lines and medical stuff and just see your child there,” MacDairmid said.

When the school’s fashion teacher – Courtney Smith – heard about the alteration, she enlisted her students to modify more sleepers for more tiny patients. So far, they’ve done about 100, which they’ve donated to Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital.

“It honestly breaks my heart,” Smith said. “But it also makes me just so happy that I can be a part of it and my kids can help out.”

MacDairmid explains when kids are in the hospital, parents often struggle to keep their family life as normal as possible.

Baby Frazer lived for six weeks. Shortly before he passed away, his parents were able to bring him outside for the first and last time. MacDairmid said it felt like a regular family moment – the kind they hope the sleepers can create for others.

“So that kids that otherwise would just be wearing diapers all day can actually have a bit of normalcy.”

The students need new sleepers to alter – with tags still on – in infant and toddler sizes. Please drop off donations to W.P. Wagner High School or the Stollery’s family room. This is their GoFundMe page. 

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