University News

Scili says goodnight to Hasbro Children’s Hospital

Several buildings visible from hospital flash lights every night at 8:30 p.m. in minute of magic initiative

By
Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The height of the Sciences Library makes it a perfect building for signaling young patients each night with light flashes from the fourteenth floor.

Each night at 8:30 p.m., a security guard at the Sciences Library shines a bright flashlight from the 14th floor to say goodnight to the children at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence. The flashlight blinks four times, once for each syllable in the phrase, “goodnight, Hasbro.”

Several other local institutions, including the Biltmore Hotel, the Hot Club and the Providence Steamboat Company, join the SciLi each night by flashing bright lights from their tallest floors at the same time. Children watching this light show from the hospital often flick their room lights on and off in response.

Steve Brosnihan, Hasbro’s resident cartoonist and board member of the Tomorrow Fund for children with cancer, started the initiative earlier this year and contacted all of the institutions that were visible from the hospital. He came up with the idea on his way home from the hospital one day when he realized he could see a young patient’s room from his bus stop. He flashed the lights of his bicycle in the hospital’s direction, and the patient responded by flickering his room lights. “It’s a neat way to communicate with a kid in the hospital,” Brosnihan said.

Due to the SciLi’s height, Brosnihan knew it would be a perfect building for this project. He contacted Harriette Hemmasi, University librarian, who coordinated the library’s involvement. “It seems like such a small thing ­— and in many ways, it is ­— but I think we underestimate how important small things are, especially for children who are in the hospital,” she said.

Jennifer Braga, library communications and public programs specialist, also helped coordinate the initiative. The project is important because it is “something the children can count on every night and something they can share with their fellow patients and friends. It is very easy and yet very impactful,” she said.

Brosnihan has received touching feedback from parents of patients at the hospital. “It comforts them — when they’re in the situation of having a sick child in the hospital ­— that someone is out there doing something for their child and that there is an acknowledgement that their children are there,” he said.

All participants in the project are hopeful that this evening ritual will continue well into the future, and further developments are underway. “There is a long-term plan to install a light that flashes automatically,” said Steve Lavallee, head of the Friedman Study Center in the SciLi.

Brosnihan, Braga and Hemmasi all encouraged Brown students to get involved in the initiative. “It doesn’t have to be limited to an administrational level,” Brosnihan said. “Anyone with access to a good quality flashlight who is in the line of sight of the hospital can participate.”

Though many of the children flash their room lights in response to the goodnight lights, there is no expectation for them to participate. “Goodwill is at the foundation of it. People are just trying to do something good for the kids,” Brosnihan said.

“I want to grow this minute of magic into a tradition that any hospitalized child can look forward to on any night they look out their window at 8:30,” Brosnihan wrote in a follow-up email to The Herald. “In the process, I believe a community of light can be created in Providence, sharing 60 seconds of goodwill every day without monetary expense or burdensome effort.”

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