FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – A well-known Fort Worth hospital is thinking outside the box as it expands. Everything began with a sketch and now hundreds of young patients are involved.
The sounds of construction echo around Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, but just outside the construction zone is an area of peace and for many a type of therapy.
“I want to paint in my chair,” 4-year-old Lily Bindner-Brazzel stated plainly. When Lily is outside painting she gets to be a regular little girl… and not a hospital patient. “I want purple,” she said visualizing her soon to be masterpiece.
For Lily painting is her therapy. The Arlington girl was involved in a car crash in December and has been at Cook’s recovering ever since.
Lily’s mom, Jennifer Bindner-Brazzel, thinks the paintings are a wonderful idea. “It’s great therapy. It’s like nothing really happened to her, she copes well with it,” she said adding that the art is also an escape, “It helps her not be cooped up in her room all day.”
The art project is Cook Children’s way of hiding construction. To get things started staff members put up plywood boards and the creative arts department started sketching.
“Right now I have at least 100 feet of murals,” explained creative arts program coordinator Carri Ann Wantuchowicz.
Now everyone, from young patients to doctors, is painting.
Patient Jennie Young said, “It feels nice. It’s different to be out of the room. It’s something different.”
Doctor Chad Hamner realized some of his weaknesses helping bring color to the construction. “I wish I could stay in the lines as good as when I operate,” he said smiling.
Hamner, who is a surgeon and working primarily on trauma cases, said jokingly, “I think this is more nerve-racking than operating in the operating room.”
The process of painting has some other unexpected benefits for the surgeon. “It’s actually a good break. It gives me a little time to relax… a little bit, on a busy day.”
While the new art creations will be up for at least two years, for patients like Lily the few minutes spent painting are a welcomed escape from reality. “I did it mom! I did it!” she squealed.
The hospital mascot is a dragon named Peaks… like the blue ‘peaks’ on the roof of the facility. Each mural board will feature a picture of the dragon.
Wantuchowicz said Peaks is visiting places across the city, among them the Fort Worth Stockyards and Bass Performance Hall. “These pictures have become like little postcards of him [Peaks] visiting the places in our community that we feel are super important.”
After construction is complete hospital officials say they’re considering auctioning off the art.
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