PARRY SOUND - It all began just two short years ago with the design of two art-bras - Mink-licious and Go Girls, Go!
Art Bras hit the bookstand.
The Support the Girls - Bra Art for Breast Health book is available locally or online.
Since then, there has been a hugely successful fundraising campaign for the West Parry Sound Health Centre (WPSHC), a website, an exhibit this past summer at the Toronto CNE and most recently the publication of book.
It’s as if the simple, yet profound concept of the Support the Girls campaign has taken on a life of its own. It has gained momentum, grown larger and WPSHC Foundation executive director Lynne Atkinson joked, it’s now moving almost too fast for her to keep up with.
Last summer, the foundation and its Support the Girls campaign, was invited to set up a booth decorated with the art bras inside the Toronto CNE for its 18-day run.
“One day a woman came through and she was totally enamored with the project...and she said, ‘This is amazing. This should be a book. I’m a publisher,’” said Atkinson last week. “She contacted me and said, ‘We want to give you an offer.’ Ultimately (the book is) about the piece of art, the witty title and the story that went with it.”
The publisher, Second Story Press, chose 48 of the art bras for the book, with all photos provided; many by three local photographers - Ted Krug, Delia Brereton and the Beacon Star’s Cody Storm Cooper.
The book arrived from the printer, to the publisher on April 9. A copy was shipped to Atkinson that evening and within a week the book was available at Whispering Pines inside the health centre and at Parry Sound Books, as well as online at Amazon, Chapters and Indigo.
“(A book) never comes out this fast - it is being released in time for Mother’s Day,” she said. “We’re just like any author, so our contract is like an author’s contract. So the author’s portion of the proceeds come to the foundation.”
Those proceeds will go into a general fund, which will pay for high-priority items needed for the hospital, Atikinson said.
“We’re a small operation that has very critical needs. We just bought our mammography unit’s new equipment - it went in January and we have other urgent needs. If this book takes off and is extraordinarily successful we can’t have money tied up in one particular department of this hospital - we need to buy anything. So that’s why any proceeds go to the priority needs of the hospital.”
Three new anesthetic machines are needed for the operating rooms and costs $316,69, Atkinson said. Two of them are 12-years-old and replacement parts can no longer be purchased. The other machine was purchased in 2006. The hospital would also like to purchase a C-arm a portable x-ray used during operations, worth $150,000, and bar coded unit dose packaging equipment, worth $200,000. Plus, the hospital hopes for a $100,000 upgrade to the local electronic health records system.
“Between 3,000 and 4,000 surgeries are performed annually and 10 to 15 years is a normal life-span (for anesthetic machines) and a similar platform to support standardization between all machines is required for safety,” she said. “(The) safe drug distribution system for (the) pharmacy is now a standard of practice expected by Accreditation Canada - 70 per cent of hospitals across Canada have this important piece of equipment.”
Atkinson said she is thrilled with the book and that the touching stories inside are universal.
“We are so excited. The people that are inside are excited,” she said of the book. “The publisher did a brilliant job. The publisher made it a universal book. It still sounds like a small town; it’s still very much Parry Sound, but what it’s not, it’s not just unique to us. Anybody can pick it up and be really touched. We’re so proud of the book. The woman who submitted her piece to the website from Costa Rica, has started the Bra Project Costa Rica and she’s doing a call for submissions through the summer. It will be juried and they’re all going into a fine art gallery in Costa Rica, opening October 4 in time for breast cancer month. Breast cancer is the leading cause of death among women in Costa Rica.”
Atkinson said she’s been surprised over the strength and speed the campaign has moved all on its own and hopes it continues.
“I’m not going to say it’s over, but I’m going to let it go on with its own energy,” she said with a laugh.