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The Spark – We Rock for Royal Columbian Hospital

As the United Nations marks World Children’s Day, Rogers Chief Communications Officer Sevaun Palvetzian, who also leads corporate social responsibility,  returns with a new edition of  The Spark, a video series highlighting incredible volunteer stories by Rogers employees and their families.  Each story starts with a spark – an impulse to help make our communities a little better, a little stronger. 

Today’s story is a family affair, and at its heart is the story of a remarkable child helping other children. The Dharsee family – Rogers Customer Solutions Specialist Salim Dharsee, his 13-year-old daughter Insiyah, and wife Rubina – spends several hours together each day at home in Port Coquitlam, B.C. designing and painting rocks with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s “Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe” message. They sell these keepsake rocks to give hope and raise funds for Zaky Hugs at Royal Columbian Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  The Zaky Hug is designed to extend a human touch, weight and mother’s scent to comfort premature babies to help them sleep and develop.  Insiyah was a preemie and now she gives parents at the hospital hope of a bright future.

THE SPARK:  Every child should have a hug… 

As 13-year-old Insiyah walks the riverbed looking for rocks, B.C. Provincial Health Minister Dr. Bonnie Henry’s signature phrase – “Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe” – runs through her mind like a mantra.  The phrase itself is a helpful touchstone for so many during the pandemic.  Insiyah began painting it on rocks to share with family and friends – and then came a higher purpose.

Thirteen years ago, when Insiyah was born at 26 weeks and weighed less than 1½ pounds, she spent three months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Royal Columbian Hospital.  The unit had only two Zaky Hugs, special ”hands” invented by Houston doctor Dr. Yamile Jackson to comfort preemies when their parents aren’t there.  Developed by Dr. Jackson when her own son was born too early, the Zaky Hug is designed to extend a human touch and mother’s scent to comfort premature babies to help them sleep and develop.  But given the limited number of “Hugs” at Royal Columbian, Rubina never had the opportunity to use a Zaky with Insiyah.

Now a healthy and thriving teen, Insiyah sees her specialist at Royal Columbian every year, and when she visits the NICU, she gives parents at the hospital hope of a healthy and happy future for their own children.  Earlier this year, she brought her doctor a painted rock, and while she couldn’t visit the NICU during COVID-19, Insiyah realized there was still a way to help provide mothers and babies comfort:  Raise money to buy more Zaky Hugs for the NICU at Royal Columbian Hospital.

THE GOAL:  $3,000 to hug 25 premature babies and help them grow and thrive

Insiyah’s goal is to raise $3,000 to buy 25 pairs of Zaky Hugs so that all of the babies in Royal Columbian NICU can receive a hug for the holiday season.  Even the Texas inventor of the Zaky Hug is onboard to support her goal!

“The story of The Zaky is the story of our family, and we are honored to partner with Insiyah to comfort babies and parents in the NICU at Royal Columbian Hospital.  On behalf of Zachary, and through Zaky Cares, we will donate the shipping fee from Sugar Land, Texas to the NICU in New Westminster on December 15th so they arrive on time to be delivered by Christmas by Insiyah and Rubina.”
– Dr. Yamile Jackson, CEO, Nurtured by Design

Through the proceeds of these beautifully painted B.C. river rocks, preemie babies and their parents will feel the kindness, calm, and safety of a very special hug.  Our company founder Ted Rogers would have loved Insiyah’s enterprising and generous spirit.  Supporting her efforts and the those of other young leaders is one way we can continue to strengthen our communities and our country.  One spark at a time!

HOW TO HELP:  You can nurture this “spark” – or ignite your own! Supporting our communities through volunteerism is one of the ways Rogers is working to make a better Canada possible for everyone. To learn more, to purchase your own painted rock, or to donate to Insiyah’s fundraising efforts to buy Zaky Hugs for The Royal Columbian Hospital, click here.