No foot is too small to leave an imprint on this world.
That’s the Wall of Hope message that greets patient families as they enter the Akron Children’s NICU at St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital. The artful display of 10 uplifting patient family success stories and photos was recently installed in the family waiting area just outside the NICU doors.
The Wardle family of the Youngstown area funded the project. Barry and Rachel Wardle and their twins James and Claire are featured among the patient stories.
Words of encouragement from those who came before them
“As families pass through it will offer them some hope when they see the success stories of children much like theirs. We want to give families comfort about the level of care that is provided here and encouragement for the future,” said Mary Ellen Michael, nursing director, Akron Children’s Neonatal Services. “There are so many different diagnoses represented on the wall and all the outcomes are great. We want to show them that here is light at the end of the tunnel.”
The display is modeled after a similar one in Akron. The featured children range in age today from 3 years to 30s. One of them ultimately became a nurse practitioner in the unit.
“The other nurses lovingly call her ‘preemie,’” Mary Ellen said. “The wall brings back so many memories for me. I’ve been in the NICU 40 years and one way or another I know all these kids.”
The Wardle family was thrilled to fund this project, Rachel Wardle said, and help bring it to life. Rachel and Barry were inspired by their own experience as young parents.
“When James and Claire were in the NICU in Akron we stood, stared and marveled at the Wall of Hope every day,” she said. “I can still see those kids’ faces and remember their stories. When you’re going through such difficult and uncertain times, it’s so important to see that there were other children before yours that made it. Miracles can happen.”
Former NICU baby parents instrumental in creating Wall of Hope
The project was multiple years in the making and involved the keen insights of the FACT group of former NICU baby parents. FACT stands for Family Action Collaborative Teams. They’re comprised of volunteer parent advisors who devote their time working on projects that benefit a particular hospital department.
Mary Ellen credited the NICU FACT group for their creative ideas and collaboration with the design firm who developed the graphic. She also acknowledged the Wardles for funding it and the other 9 families who shared their stories and photos.
To learn more about funding opportunities, contact the Akron Children’s Foundation.