Little blue footprints cross a make-believe Hopkinton starting line in the newly unveiled Mass General Boston Marathon Team, “Fighting Kids’ Cancer ... One Step at a Time,” mural in the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Unit at the MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) on Yawkey 8. The hallway mural – a physical reflection of the joy, inspiration and hope that defines the marathon team – includes a montage of photos, quotes, news clippings and art capturing the team’s legacy.
“The Boston Marathon has really become part of the fabric of our clinic, and this mural showcases the spirit of the marathon,” says Howard Weinstein, MD, chief of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and founder and captain of the marathon team. “It’s a great way to physically and emotionally bring patients and families into the experience.”
The vision for the wall was inspired by Weinstein, who has run 23 Boston Marathons to fight pediatric cancer. Last winter, he met with MGHfC Child Life Specialists Heather Peach, MS, CCLS, and Caroline Armington, MS, CCLS, to brainstorm how to showcase the marathon’s importance and tell the story of the marathon team’s history. The group met with Bruce Jones, a freelance designer who creates wall murals for the MGH, and together they sifted through volumes of material to create themes for the marathon story – Mile 20, the pasta dinner, quotes from runners and a tribute to the partnership with John Hancock Financial Services. With the 2013 Boston Marathon in mind, the group also acknowledged and honored the team’s experience with a small photo and quote on one of the walls. Patients, families and staff have responded in awe.
“We wanted to showcase photos of runners and patient partners on the wall that seemed to reach out and grab people,” Jones says. “When we unveiled the wall, one patient’s mother walked toward the hallway with her arm outstretched and touched a photograph. It was almost like it drew her to the wall, which is exactly what we were hoping for.”
The pediatric patients on the unit are captivated by the mural as well. They have been running their own races from the start to finish lines. Peach says the mural has created a sense of community in the unit especially because the patients can identify with the kids in the photos.
“Everyone who walks through here has heard about the Marathon Team, but we never had a way to showcase it,” says Peach. “Now we have a tangible way to create that connection.”
Read more articles from the 01/17/14 Hotline issue.