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In This Issue:
No vultures. Absolutely nothing with teeth. Maybe a butterfly.
Elementary school students at Solomon Schechter Day School in Newton give the utmost consideration to the illustrations they create on ceramic tiles for Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
“The kids really think about what it would feel like to be in the hospital or to visit someone there and what type of images might cheer someone up,” said art teacher Susan Fusco-Fazio, who has been creating colorful tiles for Children’s Hospital for years and recently had her students paint tiles for BWH.
Last year, BWH Radiation Oncology received a set of 54 tiles, hand-painted by third-graders and glazed and baked in a kiln by Fusco-Fazio. The theme for the tiles was “Things that Make You Happy,” and they were created in memory of one of the third-graders’ mother, Malka Korman, who was treated for cancer at BWH. “Making the tiles gave students a way to honor their classmate and remember his mother,” Fusco-Fazio said. “It also made them feel good to do something for others being treated for the same disease.”
Last month, the NICU received 36 tiles painted by kindergarten through fifth graders and their parents as part of Mitzvah Sunday, a family community outreach day at the school. “Our theme was ‘In the Garden,’ which was a perfect fit for the NICU because of the garden outside the solarium,” she said.
Paul Hughes, administrator of Newborn Medicine, said that the colors brighten the unit for staff, families and visitors. “We’re hoping that the uplifting colors and happy themes of these tiles will bring a smile to a parent or grandparent who might otherwise be very stressed by the experience of having a baby in an ICU,” he said. “The tiles will reinforce the message that babies live here and children visit here.”
That’s exactly what Fusco-Fazio hopes for when creating the tiles. She also remembers her own experience in the NICU at Children’s Hospital with her daughter Laura Marie Fazio, who was born with complex congenital heart disease and received intensive care. She struggled with long-term hospitalizations for 15 years—spending more than one thousand days in the hospital in total—before she passed away in 2001.
“My husband and I used to cheer Laura up with our art,” Fusco-Fazio said. “Our goal with the art we do for hospitals now is the same: to brighten up the room and take someone’s mind off their worries, even if it’s just for a few seconds.”
It’s working. In Radiation Oncology, for example, Child Life Specialist Julie Doherty said that the colorful tiles are a welcome distraction for pediatric patients who come from Children’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to receive radiation at BWH.
“Kids like to look at the tiles and pick their favorite one,” she said. “In addition to being a distraction, the tiles also are a springboard for conversation.”
Doherty asks children to think of other things that make them happy, which helps initiate a conversation and ease the anxiety of children waiting for their radiation appointments. “Even parents love them,” Doherty said.
The tile projects in Radiation Oncology and the NICU were framed, courtesy of the Friends of BWH. Estrellita Karsh, art chair of the Friends of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, was the curator of the framing project for the NICU. More tiles are coming soon to the NICU.