“West Campus was a blank canvas,” said Child Life Specialist Rachael Walker.
Imagine stark white rooms with lots of medical equipment. Not a very inviting place for young patients who are already timid and nervous. Walker said the white walls provided a great opportunity for Child Life Intervention with the help of a talented artist named Larry Crawford.
Places like radiology, pathology and the emergency center got a facelift as beautiful murals transformed the rooms making them inviting and familiar for kids.
Getting kids to step into the CT room used to be a challenge, now Walker uses the underwater mural to invite kids in. Kids and parents are intrigued and calmed by the murals.
“When the CT Mural was installed we started to see a reduction in the number of kids who were sedated for CT scans,” said Walker, “Kids started to come in more willingly to search and find Nemo. Before, Child Life Specialists might have spent a lot of time convincing them to come in but now kids step in more willingly as they gaze at the beautiful underwater scene.”
The art is planned with children’s interests in mind. The goal is to use the murals for distraction or guided imagery and story telling. Crawford incorporated familiar images, characters, things for counting to create a more calming atmosphere. The mural project was implemented to put kids at ease in the hospital and make the setting more child-friendly.
The entire project was funded by the community. Different organizations came together to raise money for West Campus and the donations were used to brighten these rooms and create this kid-friendly atmosphere.
“You decorate your home and office to create a certain mood. This is the same thing in a different setting,” said Walker.
Walker and the other child life specialists have seen the positive effects of the murals and were able to share the incredible project with those who contributed to it. Community donors were invited to the hospital for a special tour of the special rooms.
“The murals create a less threatening environment for our patients and families,” said Walker, “The child life department plans to continue enhancing West Campus one wall at a time.”