With a box of sidewalk chalk and a bunch of smiles, they decorated sidewalks with a rainbow of creative sayings and sketches.
Child Life specialist Spencer Slaghuis suggested the activity because he wanted to improve the well-being of health care heroes, patients and visitors.
Messages like “awesome people this way…” and “choose joy” popped up on sidewalks outside the hospital and onlookers took notice right away.
Amy Davis, manager of the Child Life team, had just finished chalking her favorite saying when a passerby stopped her to chat about it.
She had written “Choose Joy” on the sidewalk.
The visitor shared that his friend upstairs in the hospital had just told him that very same thing, and that even when bad things happen to us, we all can still choose joy.
“That’s my mantra this year as well,” Amy said. “It’s all in how we react to things—we are the owners of our own perspectives.”
She said we all need a little extra joy these days.
“We really just hope these messages will bring a smile to the many people who pass by each day,” she shared.
Greg Bird, teacher and school liaison at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, grabbed a handful of chalk and jumped right in on the action. He is newer to the Child Life team and said this is the first time the entire group has been able to be together for quite some time because of COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings.
A few of the messages up and down the Medical Mile included:
“A yawn is just a silent scream for coffee (free now for all staff!)”
“Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing!”
“Thank you, health care heroes!”
The sketches also lit up the sidewalk with a bright golden sunshine, umbrella and flowers.
A few members of The Edward and June Prein Family Endowed Pediatric Music Therapy Program at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital came up with a few jokes for anyone who walked by.
“I just burned 2,000 calories! That is the last time I take a nap while baking brownies!”
Katie Rushlow, music therapist at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, said her team picked jokes to chalk on the walk.
“If I was walking into the hospital, I feel like taking a moment to smile or laugh would be really helpful,” she said.
Katie and her colleagues are just a few of the jokesters on the Child Life team. At the height of the pandemic they took to writing Monday morning jokes on sticky notes to share with colleagues they hadn’t seen in a while.
Bridgett Sova, music therapist, echoed the importance of lighthearted joy.
“We get so busy in our day-to-day work, we don’t always get a chance to tell people thank you for all the amazing things they are doing,” she said. “I really hope this creates some smiles.”