Class Act: Revamped Shodair Children’s Hospital garden aims to help heal

HELENA- Shodair Children’s Hospital is hoping to tap the healing power of nature to help the children they treat.

A newly renovated garden features different foods like squash, grapes and flowering plants like sunflowers. The purpose of the garden at the hospital is to provide a peaceful place for the kids who stay there.

“They [patients] can come here and have a break from their lives in the hospital and learn life skills for when they leave the hospital. We really focus on giving them passions and hobbies they can take home,” said Susan-Keel Anderson, Shodair Children’s Hospital employee.

The garden is a place to teach the children at Shodair how to grow fresh fruits and vegetables, and to become an active participant in their own lives.

It gives kids at Shodair some responsibility by having them help care for the garden.

Shodair Children’s Hospital employees and Tracie Kenyon, president of Montana’s Credit Unions said where the garden stands now wasn’t much of a garden in the past.

Montana’s Credit Unions have selected the Children’s Miracle Network hospital as their charity of choice and are helping renovate the garden.

Montana’s Credit Unions donated money to help make the garden a reality.

“I hope that the kids are so excited to see such vibrant colors, the wonderful food they get to eat and pick right at this spot and the wonderful opportunity to grow something on their own, it’s really exciting,” said Kenyon.

Becca Dudek, who is the Children’s Miracle Network manager for Shodair Children’s Hospital said donations like this could make the garden a reality.

“About 80% of the patients here at Shodair are on Medicaid, so that means every dollar that the hospital charges we only get 40 cents of that dollar. So, with nice things like this we rely heavily on philanthropy work,” said Dudek.

Dudek said it’s really exciting to see the kids get a garden. It is something positive in their lives.

“It’s a great place where they can learn how to grow things and nurture them. To just create a positive environment for them, you can tell when their faces light up, that makes us feel really good collectively as a hospital,” said Dudek.