In just three years, 300 Precious Prints charms have been given to local families grieving the loss of a child as a special way to remember them, thanks to a student-led project in UT’s College of Nursing.
“The loss of a child is a devastating experience for parents and families, presenting emotional challenges few of us can imagine,” said Lynne Miller, nursing instructor and director of the Precious Prints project. “In some situations, nurses often bear witness to the death of child. The charms are a tangible reminder of those children whose life ended far too quickly.”
The Precious Prints project was initiated in partnership with a local business, Precious Metal Prints, and launched at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in January 2012. It has since expanded into the University of Tennessee Medical Center and Parkwest Hospital.
“We held our daughter for six days, four hours, and 22 minutes,” said Jennifer Swindle, recipient of a Precious Prints charm. “Nothing will change this feeling of loss, but my charm is a tangible memory of the life she lived. It’s a reminder that she was real. And some days, I just need a reminder that she was real.”
Prints are provided at no cost to the family or the hospital. Each year, UT’s Student Nurses Association hosts a Sprint for the Prints 5K to raise money for the project.
“As a nursing student I cling to what this project can do for the nurses,” said Erinn Wright, co-chair of this year’s race. “Nurses tell us this project allows them to do one last thing for the family when they feel there is nothing else medically they can do for their child. I believe this project provides healing for families as well as nurses in their deepest time of need.”
Miller agrees this project is a way for nurses to give back to grieving families.
“As nurses we just want to provide comfort, and this is a small thing we can do,” she said. “As an educator I can mentor my students to develop leadership and provide caring service to their community through this project as they assist families to move forward.”
This year’s Sprint for the Prints 5K will take place at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 26, at Circle Park. Free food, prizes and music will be provided. The event is stroller- and dog-friendly.
Tyra Haag (865-974-5460, firstname.lastname@example.org)