About a year ago, security guards at the Sciences Library began shining flashlights from the 14th floor every night at 8:30 p.m. to wish children at the Hasbro Children’s Hospital goodnight as part of an initiative called Good Night Lights. Since then, the University has expanded the initiative by recruiting students, and the SciLi now uses automated lights.
Steve Brosnihan, resident cartoonist at Hasbro Children’s Hospital and conductor of the Good Night Lights project, began what would become Good Night Lights by blinking his bike light each night at children in the hospital, who would respond by flashing their room lights back. Eventually, he began to recruit organizations and groups throughout the city to flash lights at the hospital each night.
The University recently installed two LED automatic lights on top of the SciLi to increase visibility. The lights create an impression of a “waking robot,” Brosnihan said.
“It’s a great way to participate because the building becomes super visible every night at 8:30 p.m.,” he said. “Kids look forward to seeing the robot wake up for a minute to say goodnight to them.”
Brosnihan has made an effort to involve University students in the project. At first, he recruited his family friend, John Costa ’20, to participate.
“It’s really cool that something so minor for us … can have such a major effect on kids,” Costa said. On Monday and Wednesday nights, Costa and his friends send a hand-held signal from the higher floors of the building.
“That added a really wonderful human element to the automatic lights that were already happening,” Brosnihan said. “What the kids see is the robot wake up, and then these bright sparkles that are the flashlights down the side of the buildings.”
Last fall, Brosnihan met some members of the women’s lacrosse team while they were visiting children at the hospital. He talked with them about the project and inspired some team members to get involved.
Hafsa Moinuddin ’19 has taken the lead in organizing the players. “We’re so lucky to be at a school like Brown,” Moinuddin said. “It’s always good to give back, and it’s such an easy way to do it. It’s such a rewarding and fulfilling experience.”
Usually around nine players participate, and Brosnihan, Costa and Moinuddin coordinate constantly through a group chat to ensure that someone will always be at the library to wish the kids good night.
Brosnihan has many plans for the University’s future participation. On Feb. 7, Brosnihan held a conversation with about 40 staff members to talk about the project and discuss its potential expansion.
“People were inspired and excited to do something in their own departments,” said Angela Hilliard, University human resources communication and program manager. “There were tears, honestly, and it was really great to see. Everyone was sitting on the edge of their seats.”
In the spring, Hilliard and Brosnihan plan to walk around campus to determine which buildings are most visible from the hospital. “There is a potential for a much greater Brown participation,” Brosnihan said.
Hilliard also plans to reach out to the Rhode Island School of Design to increase awareness about the initiative and hopes RISD students will contribute some creative ideas.