October 20, 2006

Children’s Hospital’s new rooftop habitat to nurture wildlife, patients

Featured Image

Jennifer Humphrey adjusts the butterfly garden set for the taping of Animal Planet's ‘Backyard Habitat,’ set to air in December.
Photo by Carole Bartoo

Children’s Hospital’s new rooftop habitat to nurture wildlife, patients

The sixth floor balcony play area at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt became a combination TV set and garden rehabilitation area earlier this month.

David Mizejewski, manager of the National Wildlife Federation's (NWF) Backyard Wildlife Habitat program, and host of Animal Planet's Backyard Habitat TV show, joined singer Wynonna Judd in helping patients develop a habitat for a variety of winged creatures.

A TV crew taped the group as they placed dozens of new planter boxes filled with flowering indigenous species of plant life, a rock garden with a water bubbler to attract both birds and butterflies, a screech owl nesting box, seed feeders, a nesting basket for the mourning doves, and several hummingbird feeders.

"All habitats serve a vital function for wildlife," said Mizejewski. "The one at Children's Hospital is doubly important because it nurtures both the local wildlife and the children undergoing treatment at the hospital."

Janet Cross, director of Child Life services at VCH, would agree. She helped a number of current and former patients share in the experience of developing the habitat.

“A healing environment is part of our mission,” said Cross. “Working with the National Wildlife Federation and Animal Planet was a wonderful opportunity to enhance one of our outdoor garden areas. Patients and previous patients thoroughly enjoyed learning about the plants and wildlife as well as participating in the television production.”

As part of the taping, set to air in December, patients were treated to a performance by Judd and a visit from residents of the Walden's Puddle Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center, including a fox, squirrel, a cottontail rabbit, an opossum, a red-tailed hawk, a barred owl, a screech owl, a mourning dove and a box turtle.

The habitat at Children’s Hospital was designated a special milestone when it became the 70,000th wildlife habitat certified by the NWF. To be certified, a property must provide food, water, shelter and a place for wildlife to raise its young.