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Muracles cheers Halloween for sick kids

Timothy Galaz and Timothy Galaz | The Daily Wildcat Timothy Galaz/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Keith McLeod, Tucson Business Broker, asks a panel of local representatives questions regarding proposition 200 at the town hall meeting concerning the proposition at Leo Rich Theatre October 26 2009.

Students and hospital staff made the stay for young patients a little less scary by throwing a Halloween party in the pediatric unit of University Medical Center Saturday.

Children entered the pediatric playroom, some dressed in costumes, others in their pajamas, and sat down to eat cookies and do craft projects. Members from the student group Muracles, which is composed mostly of students in public health-related fields, sat with the children, helping them paint pumpkins onto brown paper bags.


Students in Muracles frequent the pediatric wards of UMC and Tucson Medical Center, working with pediatric care specialists to organize craft programs. If children are not well enough to come to the programs, volunteers bring craft projects directly to the rooms, organizers said.

""Most of them are just in beds all the time,"" said Madiha Imran, UMC coordinator for Muracles. ""Most of them are really excited when we come. They need that company, not necessarily arts and crafts everyday, but company.""

Groups come in daily to bring activities for the patients and their siblings. Child Life specialists coordinate volunteers and help put on events for the ward, said Morgan Hollingsworth, Child Life specialist for UMC's pediatric ward.

""We throw a lot of events for birthdays and holidays. (Friday) we had a haunted house and face painting for the kids,"" Hollingsworth said.

Child Life specialists do everything from dressing up in costumes and throwing Halloween parties to blowing bubbles and playing games with children while their IVs are being put in, Hollingsworth said.

""It's our job to make the hospital feel like a better environment,"" said Melissa Ladensack, a Child Life intern.

Four-year-old Lilly North has been a patient at UMC for a week, but is enjoying her stay in the pediatric ward, said her mother, Tina North.

""She loves it here,"" said Tina North. ""She said she doesn't want to go home.""

Lilly North's stay at UMC was unexpectedly extended, leaving her without a Halloween costume. Child Life specialists provided her with a Tinkerbell costume that she wore to the Halloween party.

Along with her costume, Lilly North wore the evidence from Friday night's program, when a face painter came to the pediatric playroom. For children with feeding tubes, like Lilly, the face painter drew on their arms instead, Tina North said.

After the Halloween party, children participated in reverse trick-or-treating, where groups of volunteers walked to patient rooms, knocked on the doors, and delivered candy.

Muracles was formed in 1991, originally focusing on painting murals at local elementary schools. Though the club continues to paint murals, it also participates in Ben's Bells, Race for the Cure and events at UMC and TMC, Imran said.

Though most of the 200 members of Muracles are pre-health or pre-nursing, the club is open to everyone, said undeclared sophomore and club member Angela Le.

Ellen Ouellette, a new member and ecology junior, said she has already seen the effects of Muracles' work with child patients.

""The kids like to get out of their rooms and like being kids. I think it's great that TMC and UMC have so many resources and these great big playrooms for the kids,"" she said.



Want to join Muracles?

If you were thinking of joining Muracles, you have to earn 5 points in order to become a member.

Point System:

Attend a meeting: 1 point

Attend a TMC or UMC session: 2 points

Participate in community activities such as Ben's Bells, AIDS Walk, Race for the Cure: 3 points

Attend fundraising activities: 3 points

Muracles meets every second Thursday at 5 p.m. in the Kiva room of the Student Union Memorial Center.

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