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Southlake pediatric patients welcomed by unit's colourful mural

Animation artist commissioned to create first-ever mural for hospital's littlest patients

The youngest patients of Southlake Regional Health Centre can be cheered by a colourful child-friendly mural in the hallways of the pediatric unit.

Southlake's pediatric unit now has art stretching across multiple walls with depictions of a riverside camping trip and an adventure on the ocean.

The director of surgical, maternal and pediatric programs Puneet Sandhu said the first for the hospital is a way to brighten up what can be a difficult environment for children.

“(The mural) creates a child-friendly environment for our patients and families when they arrive,” Sandhu said. “We know that it’s quite daunting at times for patients, and especially children, to come to the hospital. So this is one way of creating a bit of a welcoming environment for them.” 

The mural creation process took place for more than four months, with staff and patients in the pediatric unit providing input on the design. The hospital has not previously had any murals.

Toronto-based artist Nicholas Hong was commissioned for the project, a concept artist in the film and television animation industry.

“It was truly an amazing and rewarding experience to create space for kids,” Hong said on social media. “This made me truly happy and great to put a smile with my work that I have always thought of giving positive energy through my work.”

Sandhu said the design was narrowed down, and then staff and patients were surveyed about the design, with votes determining what went ahead of a few different concepts.

The final result is one Southlake is proud of, Sandhu said.

“We’ve already had so much excitement throughout the hospital,” she said. “It really brings that light to the pediatric department, that warmth. Just a welcoming place.” 

As for how much it stands to help during treatment, Sandhu said that warmth can make an impact. 

“Just some joy to you when you are entering the hallway can help ease anxiety,” she said. “This is a hospital. But this is also a place where we welcome everyone’s creativity. We’re humans at the end.”