Olson Family Garden
Just outside St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s eighth floor, patients have a unique setting to enjoy time with nature, a private walk or quiet reflection. The 8,000-square-foot Olson Family Garden , an interactive rooftop oasis designed expressly for children and families who want a place for privacy, solace and healing, is another reason why St. Louis Children’s Hospital is a special place for kids.
Named for Bruce and Kim Olson -- the hospital donors who spearheaded the project -- the garden is home to more than 7,000 plants and flowers. “Nature can be such a wonderful source of healing and comfort,” says Kim Olson. “We wanted to help create a natural environment that everyone at the hospital could enjoy, from patients and families to caregivers.”
The Olson Family Garden provides a retreat for patients and families. In addition to a variety of places to sit and rest, including a swing, benches and small coves, children enjoy crafts, puppet shows and performances by storytellers. Other features include waterfalls, winding paths and steppingstones that take garden visitors from fountains to flowerbeds to ponds filled with goldfish and views of nearby Forest Park.
According to hospital chaplain Rev. Connie Madden, the garden represents a place for families and staff to “re-center.” “I’ve discovered that the garden works like a sanctuary,” she explains. “People go there to feel safe and less harried.”
Children who can’t go outdoors enjoy the garden’s sculptures, fountains and plants from windows in the newly renovated Child Life Services Center, an educational facility that offers a child-friendly playroom, a teen lounge and school room. The garden is also lit at night, and has featured special decorations during the holidays.