Saturday, June 17, was a day full of fun and excitement as Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley gave the community and employees a sneak preview of the Beeghly campus expansion.
The $20-million construction project adds more than 51,000 square feet to the current Beeghly campus. Several services will be relocated here to make it more convenient for patient families to receive the quality pediatric care they’ve come to expect from Akron Children’s. Those services include allergy, cardiology, genetics, neonatology, nephrology, neurology, orthopedics, physiatry, plastic and reconstructive surgery, pulmonology, sports medicine, and urology – with an additional innovative space for sports rehabilitation.
To celebrate this expansion, the hospital held Naturefest, a community festival, which tied into the new building’s theme of “reconnecting with nature.” The event was packed with activities and performances from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jungle Terry kicked off the day with an interactive animal performance and children squealed with laughter when he introduced them to his non-human friends, including chickens, chinchillas, turtles and his beloved python, “Stretchy.” Guests were even allowed to pet Stretchy after Jungle Terry’s performance!
Children were all smiles when Sue Durante – aka the Bubble Lady – hit the stage for her bubble-licious act. She showed festivalgoers how cool bubbles really were, but nothing compared to her grand finale when she placed several kids inside bubbles.
Easy Street Productions got the crowd singing and dancing when they took the stage with their Little Rascals singing group. Young vocalists belted out popular songs, including “Firework” by Katy Perry – a crowd favorite.
While entertainment took place on the stage, guests participated in fun nature lessons from Mill Creek MetroParks volunteers. Learning more about the animals in the area became an interactive experience for kids when they got to touch wolf, beaver and raccoon hides. They also learned how to plant flowers and built toolboxes as part of The Home Depot’s popular Make & Take Program – a nice gift for Father’s Day.
Inside, guests toured the campus through a scavenger hunt and viewed various, key areas in the hospital. Along the way, they played with a life-sized Operation Game, took photos using Akron Children’s pop-ups and were some of the first individuals to view the artwork on display throughout the hospital – created by local students and photography by employees.
At the end of the day, attendees had a little taste of the Mahoning Valley, thanks to Sweet Melissa’s Good Eats, a popular area eatery. The café has only been open since March, but their signature chocolate chip and pretzel cookies are already making sweet impressions on locals.
The hospital held a ribbon-cutting ceremony during Naturefest, which included Natalie Schadl and her family. Natalie spoke about her experiences with the hospital and in particular about how having access to follow-up care for her son, Tommy, a student athlete who’d suffered from concussions, was instrumental in helping him return to full activity.
The Beeghly campus officially opens on July 11.