Colorful murals are making hospitals on the Central Coast less scary for kids and some of your votes made it all possible. You may remember, the local organization Child Life Connection won an online Pepsi Refresh contest last year. The $10,000 grant was used to create children's murals at local hospitals.

Many of them are now complete, such as two that don the walls of the pediatric department at the new Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria.
"It's okay to try to have fun and take to your mind off of what you're experiencing and being able to focus on what a child normally focuses on..and that was our goal," said Belinda Hammond who founded Child Life Connections. There are also murals completed at Lompoc Valley Medical Center and Arroyo Grande Community Hospital.

UCSB and Cal Poly students designed and painted the murals, turning blank walls into beautiful works of art to help kids escape from what can be a scary place.

"I wanted to create a landscape that kids could just stare off into any kind of forget where they are," said UCSB Art Major Ashley Goodman who designed one of the murals at Marian Medical Center.

It is of the familiar Santa Maria Valley landscape, complete with rolling hills, vineyards, cows and a vivid sunset, all painted with neutral colors that would be calming for kids. This type of environment is medically proven to be beneficial.

"{Kids} need play, that's part of who they are and as we grow and develop we need to adjust to different environments and that's how we learn to cope," said Kerin Mase, Marian's Chief Operating Officer.

In hospitals with child-friendly environments, kids can be kids and, in turn, studies show they are more compliant and in some cases even discharged earlier. There is still paint available and money left over from the grant for more murals to be completed.

About the Author

Author: Lorraine Jones, RN, MSN, Emergency Department Director

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