Our Story


Prematurity is one of the leading causes of long-term health challenges and death among newborns and community-based services geared towards aiding those afflicted by the effects of prematurity are underrepresented in Canada. By supporting PoPA you are participating in a positive CHANGE within our community. A chance to CREATE awareness of the struggles families with preemies face. Together we can CREATE a strong peer-led, support-based association to enhance these families’ lives.

Our start

When Nicole Lyons gave birth to her son in 2012 at 33 weeks gestation, she didn’t know what to expect. Doctors couldn’t decide what caused their first child to come early, all they could say was to prepare for him to stay in the hospital for the next few weeks.

During their time in the Special Care Nursery (SCN) at the Civic Hospital, Nicole quickly realized there was a lack of resources and support for parents after discharge from the hospital. In early 2014, other parents began to reach out to Nicole and sharing their hospital stay experience. This quickly led to the start of an online support group, support packages including preemie clothes, vitamin D, gas cards, iron supplements, baby hats and mitts, being delivered to parents at the hospitals in Ottawa and by September 2014, the development of what is now the Parents of Preemies Association (PoPA), a registered not-for-profit organization.

What we do

The goal of Parents of Preemies Association (PoPA) is to create a community-based support network for local parents of premature children. Prematurity does not end when a child is discharged from the NICU and PoPA aims to assist parents from the birth of their child and beyond.

PoPA is a volunteer-based organization and is run by preemie parents for preemie parents using the “pay it forward” principle. Parents who receive packages, support, or encouragement are asked to do the same for others. We encourage parents to make positive connections with other parents to eliminate the isolation many feel when they have a preemie.

What started as an idea to give back and help others in March 2014, has quickly grown into a multidimensional platform to support parents of premature children.

Monies raised through the Aviva Community Fund will help PoPA meet the needs of families across the Ottawa region by allowing volunteers to expand on the work they’ve started and develop additional resources and set up much needed programming.

  • Presents for Preemies program – Monies raised will help fund packages for new preemie parents. Based on current request volumes, our estimate is 600 packages a year at $100 a package;
  • Caiden’s Library – Monies raised will help maintain a bilingual in-house library in the NICUs of the Ottawa General Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Due to health and sanitation requirements, books must be hardboard books and replaced quarterly – approximately $1,000 a year;
  • Monthly meet-ups – Monies raised will help cover location rental costs of monthly meet-ups for parents throughout the city – approximately $300-$500 a year;
  • Awareness events – Monies raised will help PoPA host three annual awareness events,BBQ celebration for local families (summer), Parent of Preemies Day (May) and World Prematurity Day (November) – approximately $500-$1,000 per event;
  • Community programming – Funds raised will help set-up community programming for parents of high-risk infants and children including handling common stressors associated with a child’s NICU stay and when bringing home their baby; preemie feeding issues and strategies; breastfeeding a preemie; developmental and speech issues; car seat instruction; and, support for preemies with special needs and long-term difficulties – approximately $300 per program per year;
  • Bereavement support program – Monies raised will help fund the development of a much needed bereavement support program to help support families who have recently suffered a lost and celebrate the lives of our smallest heroes no matter how long or short a time they shared with their families – approximately $60 per family; and,
  • Online Community – Funds raised will help PoPA continue to host a positive and inclusive online community for families. Funding will help with the cost of the design, development and distribution of education and awareness materials, site maintenance, hosting fees and other ancillary costs associated with maintaining our various online platforms:
    • a private Facebook group (www.facebook.com/groups/parentsofpreemies) that acts as an online support group where members can connect and share with other local parents of preemies;
    • a website (www.popottawa.org) that serves as a resource hub for local parents and their families;
    • a blog to share local and international news about premature babies; and,
    • a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/popottawa) to help raise awareness about issues surrounding prematurity.