Anoushka Talwar was born premature at 27 weeks and she spent her first three months inside an incubator at a NICU.
She knew her dad only as a distant voice.
But, every single day, her father would sit nearby and talk, sang, and read her stories. His voice was the only he could create a bond with her.
Today, Anoushka is 14-years-old and a ninth grader at the Lambert High School in suburban Atlanta, Georgia.
She says she saw photos of her dad sitting next to her the incubator she was living in for three months and trying to spend time with her.
This is crucial, believes Anoushka, and she wants to help other parents to also have a beneficial way to connect with their preterm babies.
Teen Creates Mini Libraries for Hospitals
For the purposes of her Girl Scout’s service project, young and ambitious Anoushka created mini libraries consisting of children’s books for the NICUs.
She thought she would collect 100 books and so she went from door to door and asked for books from as many people as she could.
At first, she recalls, it wasn’t easy; however, she didn’t give up easily. At the end, she actually managed to collect many more books, in total, 450!
This was sufficient books for 2 mini libraries.
She worked together with the March of Dimes to create a library in the NICU in the Scottish Rite Hospital of Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta and the other one in the NICU of the Emory Johns Creek Hospital.
She placed only hardcover books as they’re easier for disinfection whereas the paperback ones are put into specialized care packages and available for parents to take home and continue reading to their babies.
Anoushka said that her dad would tell her that reading to babies, especially ones born much earlier, helps develop their brain.
And, several studies have shown that reading aloud to preterm babies is linked with their cognitive development.
She Found Her Voice for Her Brother
Anoushka’s brother Shiv was also born premature at 26 weeks when she was only 8.
It wasn’t easy seeing her brother so small and vulnerable with only 2 pounds of weight. But, her parents encouraged her to let her brother hear her voice.
She remembers talking to the little boy and telling him how her day went and she would also read some of her favorite books to him.
She still enjoys reading to Shiv aloud. He’s 6 today.
This amazing girl has won the Girl Scout Award and the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Council’s Young Women of Distinction Award for completion of her service project.
For Anoushka, one of the best moments happened while she was delivering books to one of the hospitals and ran into Dr. Leslie Leigh, a neonatologist who took care for her brother in the NICU.
Dr. Leigh was excited and happy to learn that what the young girl did affects people’s lives positively.