Published on Monday, November 18, 2019
By: Annie Oeth, [email protected]
Armed with handfuls of colorful markers, children and parents, caregivers and patients around the state are creating thousands of personal pieces of art that will, collectively, be a focal point in the lobby of Children’s of Mississippi’s new pediatric hospital expansion.
Through the nonprofit Project S.N.A.P., Children’s of Mississippi for months been collecting artwork, working toward a goal of 8,000 drawings. The drawings will then be assembled into a large digitized mosaic mural.
“The design, which is still being finalized, will show the nature and architecture of Mississippi,” said Jen Hospodor, director of community partnerships at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. “Beloved landmarks such as the Mississippi River, the piney woods and the Gulf of Mexico as well as buildings including the state Capitol will be formed by thousands of individual drawings from all over Mississippi.”
Ryan Mains, a development liaison at the Medical Center, is among those reaching out to the community through drawing sessions with schools and groups.
“Project S.N.A.P. is a way for people around the state to have a connection to our new children’s hospital expansion,” Mains said. “It gives them a way to tell their own personal stories through art, to honor a caregiver or a loved one.”
The mosaic will include a kiosk where visitors can type in their name to find their piece of the mural.
Drawings range from pastel to vivid. Some, Mains said, convey messages. “The words ‘hope’ and ‘love’ are often in the artwork, and we often see drawings of happy families and the Children’s of Mississippi logo of a rainbow, kite and sun.”
The $180 million children’s hospital expansion is on schedule to open in fall 2020.
Included in the seven-story tower will be a larger lobby as well as two floors of private neonatal intensive care rooms where families can stay with their babies and be part of their care. A dozen state-of-the-art operating suites, a new home for the Children’s Heart Center and more space devoted to pediatric intensive care are also part of the plans.
The expansion will also be home to another first for the state, an imaging center designed for children.
A pediatric outpatient clinic with a 517-space parking garage nearby will allow for collaborative care among pediatric specialists and subspecialists.
“Children’s of Mississippi serves all of the state,” said Hospodor, “and this is the state’s only children’s hospital. What better way to reflect that than to showcase Mississippi’s beauty in a mosaic of individual drawings as a signature mural for our expansion?”
Cole Logan, an Air Care flight paramedic who started working at UMMC last week, was among Medical Center employees creating Project S.N.A.P. drawings during Employee Giving Week.
“It’s great that our drawings will be part of the new children’s hospital,” he said while coloring a bright orange sunrise.
Katie Puckett, whose children, Caroline and Luke, are both Children’s of Mississippi patients, created a drawing of rainbow-colored flowers growing for Project S.N.A.P. earlier this year.
“It was based on the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi’s slogan ‘Growing. So they can grow,’” she said. “That slogan has always been really special to me because this hospital is truly where my kids have grown up. It is because of Children’s of Mississippi that my children were given a chance to grow up.”
Caroline was born with a severe congenital heart defect that required three open-heart surgeries between birth and age 3. Luke was born with spina bifida, a condition where the spinal column does not close completely. He had surgery at Children’s of Mississippi when he was a day old to close his spine and spent close to a month in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit before coming home. They both continue to see Children’s of Mississippi specialists for outpatient care.
“I don’t think people realize the impact that Children’s of Mississippi makes statewide,” said Puckett, of Pearl. “Just for my family alone, they have changed our world.”
Schools and groups can book drawing sessions for Project S.N.A.P. with Mains by emailing [email protected].
Children’s of Mississippi is accepting artwork online at projectsnap/childrensms. The website includes space for personal stories to accompany uploaded artwork.
Artwork can be dedicated as a memorial or to honor a caregiver or loved one through a $500 contribution to the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, the fund drive to bring the children’s hospital expansion to completion. Launched in 2016, the Campaign has raised more than 76 percent of its $100 million goal.
To learn more about Children’s of Mississippi’s expansion, visit growchildrens.org.