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Children's hospital works to bring patients' imaginations to life

Posted at 4:24 PM, Mar 11, 2022

It doesn’t matter where you are, we have all felt a little off during the pandemic. So, you can only imagine what it must be like for a child in the hospital. But one group is working to make those kids feel more comfortable and cared for, by bringing their imagination to life.

For the last year, doctors and nurses at Children's Hospital Colorado have been asking their youngest patients to draw a picture of their dream snowman.

In some cases, they will have a caricature of a snowman adorned in sports apparel. Other snowmen are adorned in a top hat and monocle. In one instance, staff got a drawing of a snowman sitting in a wheelchair with an IV bag of hot cocoa.

The hospital has been sending these images to Generation Wild, a group that has sent these images to hundreds of families across the mountain region so they can build the snowman in the real world, and then send a photo of it back for the children to see.

“It would really make the kids feel better that there’s people who cared for them," said Evelyn Gryboski, 12, of Denver.

Evelyn and her brother Owen were two of the kids tasked with bringing a patient's imagination to life when they built a snowman in their backyard, full of buttons, a cardboard top hat, and a paper nose.

“It felt cool because I looked at it and it was fun because we were trying to get it exactly like the drawing looked," said Evelyn, laughing.

Since starting this venture, Generation Wild has generated more than 150 real life snowmen that were sent to hospitalized children.

“This opportunity is just a fantastic way to lift their spirits and make them feel noticed and valued," said Erika Croswhite, child life supervisor with Children's Hospital Colorado. “It’s so cute, yes. We have had a group of kids and the way that they feel when they see their snowman come to life—the colors, the props that are included—it just brings them so much joy. Sometimes there’s tears, sometimes there’s just pure disbelief that this could even happen.”

No matter the snowman's outfit, or accessories, they come from a stranger who wants to do nothing more than offer a smile they will never see, but still feel.

“The fact that you are making someone else feel good; it kind of, like, bounces back to you almost," said Owen Gryboski, 11.

“It just feels nice to help other people and make other people feel better when other kids can’t get outside," added Evelyn. "They can at least have an image of what they could do outside.”