‘Brain Bags’ program for new parents launched at Jennings hospital

Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 9:40 PM CST
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Jennings, LA (KPLC) - A new program at Ochsner American Legion Hospital in Jennings could help children have a head start on their literacy skills.

Hospital staff are giving out free “brain bags” for parents to read to newborns and toddlers.

“It’s an opportunity to develop that brain and have these kids kindergarten ready by teaching the parents to be engaged, to be socially and physically involved, and to be present in their child’s life,” director of philanthropy Mindy Hetzel said. “It encourages us to focus not so much on technology but on the simple words of talking.”

Hetzel said the program is a small investment they hope will positively impact the hundreds of babies that are born at the hospital annually.

All babies born at the hospital receive a bag including several books - some by local artists, a milestone book for parents to keep track of their children’s growth, resources about the area and more.

“We include things about our library, we include things that stimulate their growth,” Hetzel said. “We have a ‘Safe Sleep’ book that teaches parents a lesson, while they’re reading to their child.”

“One of the things that the hospital is working on in the future is to be Safe Sleep Designated, so this is a great way to start incorporating that into the care for our patients,” registered nurse Harley Landry said.

So far, the program has been deemed a success.

“It’s given us an opportunity to educate our parents on going,” registered nurse Katie Williams said. “They’ve been receptive to everything we’re giving them.”

With the help of the Jennings American Legion Hospital Foundation, the Zigler Foundation and donors, the hospital was able to fund this program, new warmers and rocking chairs.