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New Healing Butterfly Garden At U-M Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor

The new butterfly garden offers its little patients peace and hope during their stay at the hospital

The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor is known for offering treatments to heal the bodies of young patients, but now it's offering medicine of a different kind.

The new 1,000-square-foot Healing Butterfly Garden, which opened this summer in the courtyard near the Old Mott Hospital, is a tranquil oasis in a world of IV drips, poking, prodding and sometimes pain that comes from being a child with an illness. It's also a perfect place for patients' families to have a moment of serenity amidst the worry.

Featuring 30 species of butterflies and over 25 types of trees, shrubs and flowers, the garden was the brainchild of U-M staff specialist Brendon Weil, who had a butterfly garden growing up and created one at home for his own kid, and Susan Fisher, radiology grants coordinator.

"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," he wrote at UofMHealthBlogs.org. "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?"

Weil applied for a Fostering Innovation Grant at Mott. Every spring and fall, $125,000 is distributed among the best applications submitted by faculty and staff. Weil's application was among those chosen for the grant money.

In addition to the garden, Mott has launched The Butterfly Explorer Summer Program, which allows children in the hospital to check out backpacks filled with the tools for a garden scavenger hunt. For kids who are unable to go out to the garden, there are butterfly-related crafts every Tuesday at the hospital.

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