With Lilypad Project, Kelly Walsh students deploy their talents to cheer up sick kids

By Kristy Bleizeffer Jun 1, 2016

Students paint lily pads in Traci Kennedy's classroom recently at Kelly Walsh High School.

What does it take to lift the spirits of a kid in the hospital? A one-eyed wink from Mike Wazowski? A nasally giggle from a groveling minon? A peek-a-boo wave from the Cat in the Hat?

Thanks to several talented Kelly Walsh High School students, our pediatric nurses can deploy any of these characters to cheer up a boy or girl who’s feeling under the weather. The students made seven “lily pads” that will rest at the bottom of our wheeled IV poles, sturdy enough for the children to sit on and take a ride.  

This video from King 5, an NBC affiliate in Seattle, Wash., inspired pediatric nurse Kate Buffa to approach Kelly Walsh High School about making lily pads for our patients.

“It will be a fun motivation to help get our patients out of bed,” said Kate Buffa, the pediatric nurse who got the project rolling. “They can get a little down in the hospital.”

Buffa got the idea from watching a video about a similar project on her Facebook feed. She contacted Lucas Dow, Kelly Walsh woodshop teacher, and asked if he could make the wooden platforms. Dow recruited a couple of his students and then reached out to the Kelly Walsh art department.

“I thought it was a great idea,” said Traci Kennedy, Kelly Walsh art teacher whose independent study students painted a lion’s share of the lily pads. “The kids who will get to use these, it’s just a bright spot in their day. For the students, it’s a chance to give back to their community and to show their talents.”

 

Here’s a look at the Kelly Walsh all stars. We can’t thank you enough.

Tyler Gallegos and Garrett Hodecker

Woods teacher Lucas Dow recruited the two seniors to help construct the lily pads using reclaimed wood. They sawed it into pieces, used a compass to pencil out the shape, cut them, routed them and delivered them to the art department for painting.

“It’s cool that this is a joint effort between woodshop and art,” Gallegos said. 

Hodecker agreed: “I think it’s pretty sweet. I had a cousin who was in the hospital for a long time in Denver. I’d send him little trinkets from woodshop and he thought it was the greatest thing ever. It feels great to do this for our own hospital and help our community.”

Mullen Applegate, Shaelyn Moore-Hytrek and MADELEINE WALOCK 

Painting three fish on a wooden slab doesn’t seem like a lot, said Applegate, a junior. “But it will help a lot. A lot of projects I’ve done this year are for myself or for the art department. This is actually for people who need it, so it’s been more emotionally driven.”

Moore-Hytrek worked on a sort of an “I Spy” for the Dr. Suess world complete with the Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, Horton and the Lorax. She wanted to make a game out of a ride on the lily pad where kids can pick out their favorite Suessian character: 

“I’ve had a lot of people in my family who have had cancer and who have gone through all these difficulties, and I know how hard it is on them.  I wanted to do something to give back to these little kids who are probably tougher than anyone I know."

And, Walock’s 9-year-old sister likes Disney. A lot. Hence she chose Ariel, the underwater princess from “The Little Mermaid” for her lily pad. 

“I think it’s a great idea. I’d like to see more people give back to their community. It adds a feeling of – I don’t know – happiness,” said Walock, a sophomore.

Cianna Raines and Hunter Houg

Cianna, a senior, thought about what she liked when she was a kid to come up with her design —a fire-breathing dragon and a castle floating amongst the clouds.

“I think it’s an incredible opportunity. This project means something. It’s not just for a grade,” she said.  “My sister had leukemia for a really long time, but she beat it. She overcame. So I think it’s really cool to help out with this project.”

And how can you not love Mike Wazowski from “Monsters, Inc.?” Hunter Houg, a senior, chose Mike specifically because he was a good friend to big, blue Sulley, Monstropolis’ top scarer. 

“I figured everybody would need a friend in the hospital. Plus, he’s so cute and round that he’s perfect for this shape,” Hunter said. “This project is kind of out the ordinary: Incorporating the community into using their talents and putting them into something so great like the hospital. I think every little bit helps.”

Rayne Hamm and Hannah Thompson

Thompson, a junior, knows what it’s like to be in the hospital. She was attack by a dog as a little girl and was transported to Denver. “A lot of kids who are sick, or hurt, can get down and depressed. Having something fun in their life – like a cute little Minion to sit and drive around on – could help the feel better.”

On their lily pad, she and Hamm sketched a minion, everyone’s favorite big-eyed evil servants from the popular children’s movies.   “I think it will make a visit to the hospital a lot more enjoyable,” agreed Hamm, a sophomore. “It will bring big smiles to kids’ faces.”

How they all turned out

The lily pads were delivered to Wyoming Medical Center on Wednesday. Teachers and students involved in the project delivered them to the pediatric floor where a handful of lucky kids got to take them for a test run.

“They are adorable,” Buffa said. “Those kids are so talented. I’m happy Kelly Walsh agreed to help. While it will be fun to show our patients these great designs, it’s going to be nice to be able to tell their parents that Kelly Walsh students made these.”

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