Girls Scouts help bring smiles to sick kids

Mural helps make hospital stays less scary

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MIAMI – For more than 100 years, Girl Scouts have been doing community service projects that are supported by sales of their famous cookies. It's a winning combination that's allowing two troops in Miami-Dade County to bring smiles to the faces of sick kids, with a special splash of color.

A group of 10 Girl Scouts paint-by-the-numbers at Miami Children's Hospital Palmetto Bay. 

"It's fun to do.  It's fun to feel like you can paint," said Caley Blanchard.

"You feel like you're stepping inside a coloring book," said Physical Therapist Sherry Hudson.

The girls are turning two floors of drab hospital corridors into colorful creations, filled with ocean and jungle wildlife scenes. 

"Now the kids come here, they enjoy to come here, they look around and it looks like a playground," Blanchard said.

Blanchard's oldest daughter, Nicki, started the project more than three years ago, using money from sales of Thin Mints and Do-si-do's for paint, brushes and other supplies.  Now, little sister Caley, other Girl Scouts, family and friends have spent hours filling in the blanks, helping make hospital visits less scary. 

"The kids, when they were walking around, they would smile and be happy and everything," said painter Ximaena Sakay.  "It makes me feel like I did something to cheer them up."

Painters have brushed and dabbed for 3,200 volunteer hours so far. 

"You're not paying attention, and all of a sudden, you hear a 'Wow' and you turn around and you're smiling on the inside," Blanchard siad.  "It perks you back up, knowing that it's coming from all the hard work you put in. 

"When you finish, you realize how much you have done in such a little time because it goes by really fast," adds Sakay. 

"It's a love intensive, labor intensive project, and it's done to perfection," said Hudson.

Painters say they will keep doing touch-up and maintenance of the project, and the hospital has asked them to do murals inside some of the patient rooms.  They have also done a small mural in the main hospital in Coral Gables and may do more there.