The UF Health Children’s Healing Garden follows the Nature Explore® concept, which creates dynamic, nature-based play and learning spaces that apply research-based, field-tested design principles. Nature Explore is a program of the Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, and UF Health Shands is only the second health care facility and the first hospital in the Certified Nature Explore Classroom network. This therapeutic garden was created especially for engaging children while they are hospitalized. Its primary purpose is for use by young inpatients whose care teams have ‘prescribed’ them time here.
We developed a large welcome sign with the architect’s rendering as the base, adding icons, greenery, birds, and soft watercolor texture layered on around and on top. Local Gainesville, Florida metal artist Leslie Tharp designed an organic stylized frame with beautiful natural elements, birds, and insects. The UF Health Children’s Healing Garden is made up of special areas like the music area, messy materials area, open play area, etc. Each area has a custom icon to make it easy to recognize on the main sign, the garden information flyer, and the actual specific area.
The branding for the garden follows authorized secondary colors and fonts within the University of Florida’s expanded brand guidelines. The overall design for the signage and supporting collateral is designed to be appealing to children while being practical and functional. Scavenger hunt flyers (available in English and Spanish) are a fun way for children to learn facts about animals and identify their tracks embedded along the concrete garden paths.