Starlight brings a new outdoor healing space that makes nature accessible to medically fragile kids

Summer days in South Bend, Indiana just got a lot more relaxing and enjoyable for one respite home. Tucked between a waterfall and a line of trees sits a brand new garden pavilion at A Rosie Place.

This licensed specialty hospital dedicated to serving medically fragile children sits on five acres and a covered outdoor space has been on their wish list since the day they opened in 2010.

“The sensation of feeling the wind on your face, when you spend so much time indoors is something we take for granted,” says Ronda Spaulding, A Rosie Place Administrative Assistant.

A Rosie Place is part of the O’Hana Heritage Foundation and supports Indiana families free of charge with 24-hour weekend care and relief from the day-to-day duties of caring for a medically fragile child. O’Hana means “family” in Hawaiian and the home provides a warm and nurturing family setting, including six kid-friendly bedrooms able to support any type of medical need with nature-inspired themes. There are also several fun features, including a saltwater aquarium and colorful murals.

Now, the garden pavilion opens up a whole new world outside of the hospital.

“For some of these kids, it’s a pretty small world,” says Spaulding. “These kids have been in the hospital a lot, and when they come here, although they’re admitted to a hospital, technically, we don’t want them to have any idea.”

The pavilion took months to build, but now that it’s complete, it’s already being enjoyed by kids, families and staff. A Rosie Place hosted their quarterly family event in July and called it a Pavilion Party.

For many of the parents, they expressed enthusiasm particularly to the covered space because many of their children are sensitive to sunlight.

“It is so nice and spacious and perfect for picnics outside and group things,” says Christa Crawford, parent of a medically fragile child. “Perfect for the kids to be outside but not in the sun, which is probably necessary for most of the kids. I know mine take some medicine that make their skin more sensitive to the sun. It could be used for a dance party!”

Frogs from the nearby pond are heard croaking and birds fly overhead, just two of the many experiences that kids don’t get from being in a hospital room. The pavilion is equipped with a nearby electrical outlet so that the children – regardless of whether they’re on a ventilator or other types of machines – can spend time with the rest of the group outside.

“We continue to make tremendous strides in the name of fragile children here, and it is because of the amazing financial support we receive from our supportive community,” says Tieal Bishop, Executive Director of O’Hana Heritage Foundation. “On behalf of each and every family and fragile child we serve; we are so grateful!”

The pavilion was funded by the Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM), which selected Starlight Children’s Foundation in 2015 as its charity partner. We’re grateful to the movers and shakers at NUDM for providing funds for projects like A Rosie Place and other programs, including Jacob’s Ladder Indoor Therapy Gym and a pediatric treatment room at NorthShore Evanston Hospital.

If you represent a registered Starlight community partner and would like to be considered for a new healing space site or renovation, please contact Samantha Martinez. Not a registered Starlight community partner? Click here to register.

If you would like to help brighten the lives of seriously ill children, you can donate today. Your gift combined with the gift of others helps turn pain, fear and stress into laughter, fun and joy – because a sick kid is still a kid at heart.

Donate Now

About the Author

Tara Millspaugh

Digital Media Manager

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *