Fox Valley community members help NICU families through sharing wall display projectThere’s a new, colorful display in the halls of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin-Fox Valley! New parents visiting their infants now pass by a 4-by-8 “Miracles Growing” sharing wall.

In the center of the wall is a large, strong tree on a background of green grass, blue skies, and fluffy white clouds filled with words like “Love,” “Courage,” and “Hope.” The tree has colored “leaves” made from tiny handprints and footprints, and is surrounded by six NICU stories.

How the idea for Miracles Growing was born

Each story is unique, but they all start at the same point: a baby needing NICU care.

The stories share details of each child’s hospital stay, including the fears and worries of the parents. There are photos of tiny infants hooked up to various tubes and wires — pictures that may be frighteningly familiar to new parents in the midst of their NICU experience. However, these are accompanied by photos and descriptions of the children today. There are inquisitive toddlers, happy preschoolers, and even a couple of children who are more than a decade past their hospital experience, like my son, an 11-year-old proudly holding his hockey stick.

The Miracles Growing display is just one benefit realized by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin-Fox Valley’s partnership with members of the 2014-15 Leadership Fox Cities (LFC) program. LFC is a professional development program sponsored by the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce that gathers monthly to learn about social issues and challenges facing the Fox Cities area and how to become stewards of the community. The program organizes participants into small teams to identify a project for a nonprofit in need.

After touring the NICU last fall, one LFC team, along with hospital staff and family volunteers like me, brainstormed ways to enhance and improve the NICU experience for our Fox Valley families. The idea for Miracles Growing was born. It was installed a few weeks later, providing hope and comfort to NICU families, all at no cost to the hospital.

As a Family Host volunteer in the NICU, I speak to many families who are just beginning their NICU journey. It is often an unfamiliar, scary and lonesome time, and an experience that family and friends who have brought newborns home may not understand. It’s also never the story that any parents ever imagined would happen to them.

Helping current NICU families

Our hope is that the Miracles Growing sharing wall will provide an opportunity for past NICU families to share their stories of courage, hope and strength to help current NICU families. Each of the story locations is designed to be continuously updated with new stories of hope. Though I am proud to share my son’s story, I look forward to seeing it replaced with a new one.

If you have a Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin-Fox Valley NICU story you would like to share, call Rosann Fochs at (920) 969-5303.

– Christi Lemery, NICU Family Host Program volunteer and Family Advisory Committee member, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin-Fox Valley

Located in Neenah, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin-Fox Valley is the only hospital in the Fox Valley dedicated exclusively to the care of kids.

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