The Children's Healing Experience Project: Taking Care to New Heights
The Children’s Healing Experience Project is about more than beautiful art. A first of its kind in Canada, it’s a shift to a whole new way of care — that is, using purpose-built art, murals, sculptures and more to bring measurable benefits that heal the mind and spirit. The pieces, which are featured all throughout the Teck Acute Care Centre, stay close to our province’s roots and reflect its natural beauty, culture and history.
After we sent out a call for artists last year, we worked with kids and families to determine the art and installations that resonated with them, as well as clinicians, to understand the varying needs of patients in the hospital. The works appeal to and engage all ages, from toddlers to teens to parents and grandparents.
“We wanted to feature art that was child-like, but not childish,” said Danielle Semple, project manager of the Children’s Healing Experience Project. “The teens in particular had specific ideas about the type of art they would like to see. They also provided great input on the colours and images that might be overwhelming when on medication.”
Knowing that it takes a village to heal a child, we also reached out to the province’s most iconic institutions to create original installations at the Teck Acute Care Centre. The Vancouver Art Gallery, Royal BC Museum, Vancouver Aquarium, H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, UBC Museum of Anthropology and Telus World of Science have designed thoughtful and unique exhibits that bring their experiences inside the walls of the hospital.
Come fall, when the new Teck Acute Care Centre opens, you will be able to see for yourselves the breathtaking outcome. But in the meantime, we wanted to share a sneak peek at an exhibit that the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre designed. It is located in the oncology unit on the eighth floor and will take cancer patients who are scheduled for a procedure on a journey through space. It begins inside the International Space Station — or, as it’s more traditionally known in the hospital, the preparation room. From there, kids are taken to outer space for their procedure, and finally return back to earth in a recovery area that has inspiring, serene photos of the sunrise over Vancouver and the Aurora Borealis.
It’s the details that make the exhibit truly shine. All photos are real NASA images and there are reproductions of NASA mission patches — including the unique guitar pick shaped emblem created to honour one of Col. Chris Hadfield’s missions to the space station, not to mention a full-sized shot of a Z-series space suit. The procedure room will have a ceiling with some 100 hundred twinkling LED lights, placed to perfectly replicate constellations like the Big Dipper and Orion. To welcome kids back to Earth, the recovery room uses colour-changing LED lights, to mimic the glow of the auroras. As Space Centre astronomer Derek Kief explains, all of that has been implemented to enhance how we treat kids.
“Children at the oncology ward are on a difficult journey already. We wanted to design the rooms to ease the anxiety and difficulty of that journey.”
We think that it’s out of this world.
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