Hasbro Children’s Hospital recently announced a milestone in its ongoing renovations with the completion of the new Balise Healing Garden and a completely reimagined playground.
The space was made possible by donor support of a special fund-a-need opportunity, and with generous gifts to the Every Child, Every Day campaign – the $35 million effort funding the hospital’s modernization projects.
“This is a very special project. We know there’s a correlation between spending time outside and the healing journey for children, and that a place for respite brings normalcy to a child’s hospital stay,” said Timothy J. Babineau, MD, President and CEO of Lifespan. “We are beyond thankful to Jeb Balise, his family, and all of our incredible supporters whose generous philanthropy made this transformation a reality. Hasbro Children’s has truly been built by our community, for our community.”
Located outside the lower level of the hospital and nearby the ambulatory and primary care clinics, the Balise Healing Garden and conjoined playground are 29,000 square feet, a footprint 20 percent larger than it was previously. Entering the area, patients and families are greeted by a teaching garden that features raised beds, each housing vegetables and herbs according to their colors and characteristics. Adjacent to the garden and an important element of the area is a completely re-worked Healing Arts Theatre. It features a triple tier of stadium-style benches made from teak wood, facing a performance area with a variety of chimes and drums for patients to play and use to express themselves. The space is of particular significance for behavioral health patients and the hospital’s Healing Arts Program, which is integral to patient care and helping children cope with illness or injury.
“Balise Auto and the Balise Family are proud to partner with Hasbro Children’s Hospital in the creation of the Balise Healing Garden,” said Jeb Balise, owner and CEO of Balise Auto. “It is our hope that this peaceful space brings comfort and healing to children for years to come.”
A short distance away is all-new playground equipment, including various swings, a play hut, and a climb-on structure with a wheelchair accessible slide. Built upon a special cushioned foam base for safety, the playground equipment is constructed from recycled materials, including oral care products and packaging that resulted from a recycling initiative led by CVS Pharmacy, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Starlight Children’s Foundation, and TerraCycle.
The recycling program called upon people nationwide to recycle their oral care products and packaging to help their state win a playground for a children’s pediatric facility. For three months in 2019, CVS Pharmacy customers in Rhode Island recycled more toothbrushes, empty toothpaste tubes and floss containers than any other state in the country, and Hasbro Children’s Hospital was awarded the grand prize. The new playground was then complemented by the addition of picnic tables, benches and chairs, and walking paths. At its far end is a basketball area with an adjustable height hoop.
“We were able to help build this wonderful playground for families at Hasbro Children’s Hospital while incentivizing recycling among our CVS Pharmacy customers,” said Eileen Howard Boone, SVP of corporate social responsibility and philanthropy and chief sustainability officer at CVS Health. “It’s a win-win for everyone involved, most importantly the countless children who will enjoy the playground for years to come.”
The Balise Healing Garden and the playground were completed in late September, allowing for limited numbers of patients and families to enjoy the space while also following current health and safety guidelines. The area is cleaned regularly, and informational signs regarding COVID-19 and sanitizer stations are placed throughout. Construction of the project was led by Cranston-based Pariseault Builders.
“Lifespan and Hasbro Children’s have been tremendous partners over the years. We take great pride in helping those who help others and this outdoor space immediately became important to all of us,” said Brian Casey, president of Pariseault Builders. “This is more than just a beautiful outdoor area – it is healing space where care and kindness comes together with fun so patients can be kids. We’re proud to have been a part of rejuvenating this area to turn it into the bright and welcoming space it is today.”
Along with donors to the hospital’s special fund-a-need, Balise Auto and Balise Subaru, and partners CVS Pharmacy, Colgate, Starlight Children’s Foundation, and TerraCycle, the project was supported generously by the Rhode Island Shriners, Deanna and Scott Donnelly, and Julie and Michael Mahoney.
Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, a part of the Lifespan health care system, is the premier pediatric facility for clinical care, research and education for Rhode Island and surrounding southeastern New England. A private, not-for-profit institution, it is the pediatric division of Rhode Island Hospital, the principal teaching hospital of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Hasbro Children’s Hospital is designated as a Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons (ACS).