“Designing for Healing”: stickers to help Shriners patients

Ella Schweizer ’22 has turned her personal history into an opportunity to help others. Her own experiences at Shriners Hospital for Children have led her to try to improve the experience for current patients.

She organized a sticker-making workshop for the Day of Community Learning on December 13 to benefit hospital patients at Shriners Hospital. Workshop participants created and colored sticker designs on their iPads with themes such as “outer space” or “farm animals.” Some students also colored in pre-made designs. These designs will eventually be photocopied, mass-produced, and made into stickers for Shriners Hospital For Children, which is located at 51 Blossom Street in Boston.

To Ella, the purpose of this workshop is personal. When she was just five years old, she was in a fire that left over 30% of her body severely scarred. She has been treated at Shriners ever since. She says, “It was because of little things, like books, fun bandaids, stuffed animals, and stickers, that I was able to have some of the aspects of a normal childhood in a time where I had to give up a lot of the things that kids love to do.” The stickers will be given to children after they are given shots or before surgery. They will also decorate the hospital beds and surgical masks. 

The Dana Hall Arts Squad, a new student-directed committee focused on promoting the arts at Dana Hall, collaborated with Ella to help design, facilitate, and present during the workshop. Syd Weller ’22, Carys Cadwalader ’22, Charlotte Hecht ’21, and Cagla Tunca ’22 are members of the arts squad who assisted in the workshop either to help participants design and color the stickers or to present.

Shriners Hospital for Children, which was founded in 1922 during the polio epidemic, is a children’s hospital that specializes in burn injuries, cleft palate surgery, and treating severe skin conditions. Shriners is affiliated with the Boston Children’s Hospital, and its official headquarters is in Tampa, FL. Ella is volunteering at Shriners in addition to running this event for her community service hours. 

Ella mentioned that while Shriners treats all patients ages eighteen and under, most patients are younger than ten. While designing stickers, it’s important to stay away from messages such as “get well soon” and “feel better.” Many of the children at Shriners have ongoing surgeries, and these messages can seem shallow or unhelpful. She also warned against using imagery that could upset patients. Ella also said that “These are normal kids who just want some things that normal kids have.” 

Shriners Hospital for Children does not charge patients or their families, so donations are always welcome.

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