It all began when a handful of NICU nurses at Mobile’s University of South Alabama Children's and Women's Hospital decided to switch up their hairstyles. They started to wear their hair standing on end like the characters from Trolls in an effort “to bring a little joy to a place that can sometimes be very stressful for parents and caregivers of babies born much too soon,” Casandra Andrews, assistant director of marketing and communications for University of South Alabama Hospitals, tells Southern Living. It started out as a heartwarming gesture, but seeing the nurses’ hair “raised up” gave neonatologist Dr. Om Prakash Jha an idea that has since turned into a fundraising effort.
"The work they're doing is against nature's default. When babies are born three to four months early, the default is that they will not make it,” Jha explained to AL.com. “In ancient cultures, the babies would be left on the ground to pass away. Early neonatologists used the analogy of 'raising them up,' from the ground."
- Alabama Nurse Named a Finalist for “America’s Most Amazing Nurse”
- Stranger Surprises Popeyes Employee with Nursing School Tuition
- 8 Reasons Mobile, Alabama is a Must-Stop Southern Spot
Jha along with some awesome NICU nurses got together and decide to create a social media/Facebook challenge in the vein of the ice bucket challenge that swept the country a few years ago. And so the Hair Raising Challenge was born, and staff members are challenging other NICU staff, their family and friends, and the public, to raise their hair up, take a photo and post it on Facebook, tagging others to challenge in the same manner. They also are asking for donations for the hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit through a link.
Andrews explained that the donations will help pay for updating specialized medical equipment such as a transport isolette unit used to bring premature babies to USA’s Hollis J. Wiseman Neonatal Intensive Care unit from other hospitals. As the only Level III NICU in the region, about 20 percent of the 1,000 or so babies treated in the hospital's NICU every year come from other areas in south Alabama and southern Mississippi.
"We've had a huge response from nurses and parents of premature babies who have been through the NICU," Dr. Jha told AL.com. "This is to get some perspective on how much premature babies struggle just to survive."
To participate, share a photo of yourself with your craziest vertical hair on social media along with the hashtag #hairraisingchallenge, then challenge your family and friends. And don’t forget to link to the hospital’s fundraising page, here.