Larry Warner, a retired OB/GYN who has delivered over 75,000 babies, now wants to deliver beds, and has joined forces with the non-profit Sleep in Heavenly Peace to create a Central Utah chapter. The organization builds beds and delivers them, fully furnished, including new mattresses, mattress covers, sheets, blankets, and pillows, to children ages 3-17 who would otherwise be left sleeping in unsuitable sleeping situations.
“To our knowledge there are painfully few options for guardians who are unable to provide a bed for their child, a typical household item taken for granted by many,” said Warner. “Most agencies, whether government, state, or non-profit, aim to assist with food, shelter, healthcare and other essentials. However, very few entities provide beds for children.”
He cited research showing children with sub-optimal sleeping conditions are more likely to live in disadvantaged circumstances and experience poverty-related stress, all of which contribute to poor sleep. The consequences of poor sleep are significant, especially for young children. For example, a recent study on home sleeping conditions and sleep quality in preschool children found that sleeping alone in their own bed is associated with better sleep quality. Additional research shows that children with sleep issues are more likely to have poor performance in school, experience emotional and behavioral problems, and develop obesity and chronic disease later in life.
Although no formal studies exist to provide an actual number, historical SHP delivery data collected indicates conservatively that 3% of a community’s overall population represents children ages 3-17 experiencing sub-optimal bedding. It is estimated that the local numbers could reach as high as 7-10%.
“Our mission is to provide beds to children in need and bring awareness to this emerging issue,” said Warner. “The more awareness we can provide the community through our continued efforts and community partners, the more support we can gather to fulfill our mission.”
He said providing children with their own bed gives them ownership of even one small space, ownership they may not get over any other part of their lives. These beds restore dignity, not only to the children, but to the families who are struggling.
“We aim to help create safe, positive living environments for children and provide families with the resources they need to ensure their kids safe and suitable sleeping environments,” said Warner. “Providing a disadvantaged child with a bed is a specific intervention with the potential to make a lasting difference in their lives and community. Our motto is ‘no kid sleeps on the floor in our town’.”
The twin beds are bunkable and are built from scratch and designed to last a lifetime. No experience is needed to participate. Donations are always accepted, and a $250 donation would sponsor one full bed set. Warner said both Home Depot and Walmart locally have stepped up and offered grant options to help the project and offer discounts on tools/lumber/ and other necessary supplies, and the Humanitarian Center in Richfield is interested in providing quilts.
Volunteers are also needed to help build and deliver beds, and he recommended companies, youth groups, Eagle Scouts, sports teams looking for a service project to consider this one and they are encouraged to reach out and schedule a ‘build day’. The volunteers are trained and supervised by SHP ‘experts’, all tools are provided. and the 8-station project can be completed in a timely manner.
“The joy that comes from delivering our beds to a child that doesn’t otherwise have one is a life-changing adventure,” said Warner. “The donations and volunteers together can give children new beds, so they can Sleep in Heavenly Peace.”
For more information visit SHPbeds.org or Warner can be contacted at email@example.com. They’re also on Facebook @SHPUTRichfield.
In addition to volunteers and donations, perhaps the most critical piece of the equation are the children in the local area who are in need of a bed. Local religious leaders and school principals/counselors/teachers/refocus coordinators have been made aware of the program and anyone who has suggestions as to who could be helped are asked to please contact them. Even kids themselves.
“We know there are a lot of unfortunate circumstances that could happen to any of us, and there are safe places for kids to come and talk. No judgement. By all means, please let us know how we can help,” said Warner.