Former patients, community members and Banner Health staff celebrated a groundbreaking on Thursday for “The BIG Outside,” an outdoor play space and healing garden for patients and families at Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa.
The outdoor area, which is expected to open in December, will offer plenty of activities and features to help kids keep their minds off treatment or to receive rehabilitation therapy outdoors. This includes mini golf, a basketball court, an amphitheater for kids’ programs, and a bereavement garden.
A group of community members, parents and young patients (ages 3 to 18) across Maricopa County worked together with Banner Children’s staff and the Banner Health Foundation to raise nearly $520,000 for The BIG Outside. Among those who spoke about the importance of the project was Laurie Shook, mother of Cardon Children’s patient Addie Shook, who was born with a rare genetic defect.
“These kids (at the hospital) need to be able to go outside and have fun. With the hundreds of days we spent at Cardon Children’s, it was hard for Addie to do that,” Shook said. “Soon this will be here for so many kids to be able to enjoy.”
Laura Robertson, CEO of Banner Desert and Cardon Children’s Medical Center, said The BIG Outside will be more than a place to play in the fresh air and sunshine.
“Our young patients can receive rehabilitation therapy in this new outdoor environment, and parents can reflect and recharge in the healing garden,” Robertson said. Also, “Siblings can have a place to just be kids with their brothers and sisters, who are hospitalized or receiving treatment. What a gift.”