Barrington students celebrate Good Night Lights

Hampden Meadows class publishes book, presents it to project creator Steve Brosnihan

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Years ago, Steve Brosnihan started the Good Night Lights project.

The Bristol resident who shares his cartoon talents with patients at Hasbro Children's Hospital was looking for a simple way to say good-bye to a little boy who was being discharged from the hospital. 

Mr. Brosnihan decided that when he was riding his bike home that night — he commutes to the hospital via bicycle and RIPTA bus — he would stop his bike along a clearing in East Providence and flash his bike light toward the boy's room at Hasbro. 

Mr. Brosnihan did just that, and the boy responded by flashing his room lights off and on.

The simple gesture has since turned into a fast-growing tradition, and last week, students at Hampden Meadows School in Barrington helped to continue Mr. Brosnihan's work. The fourth-graders in Sandra Ginalski's class published a book titled "Good Night Lights" which tells the story of the daily heart-warming gesture started seven years ago by Mr. Brosnihan.

The students and their teacher invited Mr. Brosnihan and Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children's Hospital President Margaret Van Bree into their class on Tuesday, June 13, to present copies of the newly-published books. Ms. Van Bree and Mr. Brosnihan sat at the front of the classroom and listened while Mrs. Ginalski spoke about how hard her students worked to complete the book.

Mr. Brosnihan then told the students the story of how Good Night Lights first came to be, and how they, too, could participate in the nightly light-flashing activity.

"All you need is a good flashlight," he added. 

Ms. Van Bree spoke about how many boys and girls go to Hasbro Children's Hospital each day. She said staff and volunteers — people just like Mr. Brosnihan — work hard to make the experience as comfortable as possible for the children. 

She said the children at the hospital always look forward to 8:30 p.m. when Good Night Lights begins. Ms. Van Breen said the simple gesture reminds them that there are people out there who are thinking about them and hoping they get well soon.

Ms. Van Bree said Good Night Lights has actually been adopted by other hospitals across the country.

Mr. Brosnihan thanked the students for their work and said that by creating the book they have continued to push the Good Night Lights project even further. 

"When it spreads, you can claim a role in making that happen," he said.

In addition to giving Mr. Brosnihan a copy of their book, the students and staff at Hampden Meadows School had another surprise to offer — a song. HMS teacher Mark Whittaker and student Sam Bishop played guitar and were joined by the students in Mrs. Ginalski's class while singing an original song about the Good Night Lights project.

Mr. Brosnihan smiled and thanked everyone. Applause filled the room.

Mrs. Ginalski said she was happy to bring the book-publishing project to her classroom and was proud that they have helped share Good Night Lights with others. 

The long-time teacher said she hoped that one day boys and girls would receive a copy of the book upon entering the hospital, so that they could better understand Good Night Lights and become part of the tradition.

Copies of "Good Night Lights" can be purchased at www.studentreasures.com with the pin number 6126293.

For his work, Mr. Brosnihan was recently selected to receive a Myra Kraft Community MVP Award from the Patriots Foundation. 

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.