COE faculty member helps organize donation of infant sleepers in wake of hurricanes

Hundreds of families affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma will soon be able to rest easier, thanks to a donation of 1,000 Pepi-Pod infant sleep spaces donated by New Zealand-based non-profit organization Change for Our Children and coordinated by UNT College of Education faculty member Wendy Middlemiss.  

Change for our Children Limited, a small social innovation company based in Christchurch, said the Pepi-Pods ensure a safe place to sleep for a baby whatever the disruption to family circumstances.  

“Babies are a particularly vulnerable group in times of natural disaster,” said Change for Our Children director Stephanie Cowan. “Hurricane Harvey has tipped thousands of Texan infants into increased risk of sudden infant death by disrupting living and sleeping conditions for their families. It is harder for parents to provide safe sleeping conditions for their babies when fearful, dependent and displaced.”

Middlemiss, an associate professor of Educational Psychology, has done extensive research on infant sleep safety, in the U.S and in New Zealand. She is working with Michael Garrett, CEO of Texas-based Trusted World, to organize the collection and distribution of the sleepers to families in need. They will be stored and distributed by Harvey Relief Hub, a volunteer-run initiative in Houston.

Each pod will be supplied with a mattress, two bottom sheets and a letter of goodwill from the people of New Zealand to the parents of Texas. A team at Baby First Limited in Christchurch is busy sewing for the project.

“Many people across New Zealand participated in an outpouring of support for Christchurch parents following the 2011 earthquakes, when we initiated a similar response,” said Cowan. “This is a New Zealand response. Hearts melt when it comes to babies. To survive the floods but be lost to a sleep accident is a tragedy we can help prevent in Texas.”

For more information, contact Middlemiss at 724-977-3067 or wendy.middlemiss@unt.edu.

 

Above, a baby sleeps in a Pepi-Pod.