Brighter atmosphere for children's wards

Last updated 05:00 28/04/2012
Shaugn Briggs and Kelly Dugan
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

BRIGHTER: Artist Shaugn Briggs puts finishing touches on a wall mural at Christchurch Hospital as Smile Dial project creator Kelly Dugan looks on.

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Staring at the plain walls of Christchurch Hospital while his baby daughter was treated in intensive care, Kelly Dugan was struck with an idea – to help sick children smile again.

When baby Lucia was born last September to Dugan and his partner, Lucy Styles, she had brain injuries that required long hospital stays and treatment for the rest of her life.

The family spent weeks at Christchurch Hospital and noticed some of the areas in the paediatrics department were dull.

One night, waiting for Lucia to be treated, Dugan began complaining to Styles about the "horrendous walls".

Styles told him that if he hated them so much he should do something about it. So he did.

Dugan started the Smile Dial initiative, which aims to create a pleasant environment at the hospital for families and patients and bring smiles to sick children's faces.

"I just thought they were awful and it wouldn't take much to make the place a bit brighter and nicer for the families and patients," he said.

The first Smile Dial project is close to completion.

Artist Shaugn Briggs has painted a mural in the waiting area using paints supplied by Paint Tech and donated lights from Lighting Plus Moorhouse Ave, while award-winning artist Ruth Killoran has donated a painting.

The mural had received some amazing feedback, Dugan said.

Charge nurse manager Robyn Richens said the projects had made a big difference to the department.

"The work that Kelly has organised and the painting by Shaugn Briggs has really brightened up what was a rather dull and uninspiring area," she said.

Dugan wants to find sponsorship for the next project – local artist Tony Cribb will paint a hallway of the children's wards.

Anyone keen to assist can contact Dugan through the Facebook Smile Dial page.

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- The Press

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