This four-year, multi-faceted, family-centered care, arts in medicine project was developed by N.T. Hope and its collaborators to support families whose babies are born prematurely.
Dr. Lalinde at the project’s unveiling spoke about how the project came about. “I woke up one Saturday morning with an epiphany of how to bring hope to families in despair. I went to my computer and by noon the project idea was complete and I was calling Dr. del Moral at Holtz Children’s Hospital to see if she was willing.
I had been reading several books by Joseph Campbell - particularly his work about the Hero’s Journey, a mythical vision quest that he found to exist in all cultures. On this journey the hero lands in an alien environment where he experiences many tests and trials. The hero is always aided by a mentor or guide who helps him overcome the obstacles. He returns home changed forever and shares his vision for the benefit of others. It hit me that I had been on this journey, twice...once with my daughter’s birth, again with her death. I found comfort in perceiving those times of total despair as the impetus for my personal growth. My morning epiphany sprang from my desire to give others the opportunity to see their own tragedies from a hopeful perspective.”
The Hero’s Journey project upon completion was composed of two phases. The first phase began with a small focus group of physicians, staff and families. It was at this time the need for a healing space for families was identified. The location became a challenge - as the only good space was a wide corridor right outside the NICU. It took many meetings with administration, but in the end this wide corridor was transformed into a beautiful space filled with messages of hope, transformation and connectedness. These messages of hope were embedded in mosaic columns, hand-built benches and family quilts hung on adjacent walls in shadow boxes.
The second phase was developed upon completion of the healing space and website. There was a strong desire to continue to connect families and bring hope and healing while families were still in the hospital. Collaborators, Expressive Arts Florida met again with us to help design the monthly expressive arts sessions for Phase II. In addition to the monthly sessions, a decision was made to share the written family stories with all new families as a Welcome to the NICU - You Are Not Alone booklet in English and Spanish.
The components of the Phase I and Phase II are listed below. A full description of Phase I is captured in The Hero’s Journey booklet.
Deep gratitude to the Miami-Dade Department of Cultural Affairs, The Sylvia S. Rosenthal Parent Teaching Program and The Children’s Trust for their support. Also many thanks to our collaborators on this project, Expressive Arts Florida - for their wisdom, insight, creativity and hard work.