When I was a kid, I loved butterflies and bugs. My grandma lived next door and she fostered my fascination. Together we found caterpillars and watched them go through their life cycle and become butterflies. When I had my own children, I shared my hobby with them. I learned how to attract butterflies to my garden by growing native plants. Soon, the garden was a hit with not only my kids, but all the neighborhood children as well.
One day at work, I met Susan Fisher who also shared a passion for butterflies. We shared stories and she told me how she had given a friend who was a cancer patient a caterpillar. Her friend found great comfort in observing the lifecycle of the caterpillar as it transformed into a chrysalis and then a butterfly. Like Susan’s friend, many patients relate to those transformations when they experience their own changes as they go through the healing process. A light bulb popped in my head — wouldn’t it be great if we could bring this experience to more of our patients?
That’s when I decided to apply for a Fostering Innovation Grant to turn a vacant area of the courtyard into a native butterfly garden. Susan and I were thrilled when we learned the grant application was accepted. We started planting the garden last summer. Now many of the plants have matured, and we’re introducing the first butterflies and officially opening the Healing Butterfly Garden.
Throughout the summer, we’ll be holding Butterfly Tuesdays in Mott. From 11 am to 2 pm each Tuesday, Mott Children’s Hospital Child and Family Life staff will be coordinating butterfly-focused activities in the Family Center, Classroom and Mott Activity Rooms. These will include butterfly arts and crafts and butterfly education in the classroom.
Additionally, we launched the Butterfly Explorer Program. We have 12 backpacks that can be checked out of the Family Center any day of the week during Family Center hours. Each backpack is filled with a map to the garden, magnifying glass, and a clipboard filled with Explorer Program cards that tie into the educational signage in the garden. A range of activities will appeal to kids of all ages. Very young children can simply have a scavenger hunt looking for items pictured on the cards. Older children can focus on the scientific names of the butterflies and finding the plants where a specific type of butterfly likes to lay their eggs. It’s a great opportunity to get out in the fresh air and engage in a fun and interesting activity.
If you’re at Mott this summer, or find yourself in the main courtyard, I encourage you to stop by and explore the Healing Butterfly Garden.
Special thanks to Team Detroit for their assistance designing and producing the educational signage at the butterfly garden.
Take the next step:
- Learn more about the Fostering Innovation Grant (FIGS) program at University of Michigan Health System
- Read the news release announcing the Butterfly Explorer program
- Check out the Butterfly Explorer program activities every Tuesday this summer from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. through the month of August in the 2nd floor Family Center, all Mott activity rooms and the hospital classroom.
Brendon Weil is a Lean Coach at the University of Michigan Health System. In his role as a Lean Coach, Brendon helps us improve the way we care for patients every day by focusing on opportunities to impact safety, effectiveness, patient-centered care, timeliness, efficiency, and equitable care without regard to gender, ethnicity, geography or socioeconomic status.
University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in U.S. News Media Group’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” and among the 10 best children’s hospitals in the nation by Parents Magazine. In December 2011, the hospital opened our new 12-story, state-of-the-art facility offering cutting-edge specialty services for newborns, children and women.