Every Monday and Thursday year-round, Master Gardener volunteers plant with patients at St. Paul Children’s Hospital as part of the My Little Green Friends therapeutic horticulture program. Normal rounds make visits to two general hospital wings, the epilepsy wing, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Short Stay Unit, and a group activity with patients with eating disorders.
Starting in June 2023, the My Little Green Friends group was asked by the hospital’s Volunteer Services department to visit with an additional group: patients in the hospital’s new Inpatient Mental Health unit (IPMH), which opened in late 2022.
Kids from around the country are in an unprecedented mental health crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated. The new unit at St. Paul Children’s Hospital is the first of its kind in the east metro area and one of only a few in the state to admit kids with more complex medical conditions.
The unit provides a healing environment specifically designed for kids and youth ages 6 to 18. The unit includes:
Twenty-two large private rooms that allow a parent to stay overnight with their child.
Environmental design focused on natural light, calming sensory-friendly spaces and (soon) safe access to the outdoors.
A multi-disciplinary care team, including psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, nurses and expressive arts therapists that provide individualized treatment tailored to meet each child’s needs.
The My Little Green Friends group has been the only volunteer group to date to be asked to participate in the program in recognition of the potential benefits of the therapeutic horticulture activities. In this new program, Master Gardener volunteers, in teams of two, conduct specially-selected planting activities over a 45 minute period with patients in a group setting. The activities are similar to those conducted with other hospital patients except the procedures and some of the materials have been modified to be appropriate to the IPMH unit.
We are delighted to take on this additional responsibility and to be of help to these kids in need.
Big thanks to the participating Master Gardener volunteers! You make a huge difference to the patients' recovery!
My Little Green Friends Project Leadership Team
Master Gardener volunteer
Master Gardener volunteer
This community service project supports the Nearby Nature priority of the Master Gardener Volunteer Program: Encourage access to plants and green spaces for health and wellbeing by working with community groups to co-create projects