Shared from the Hartford Healthcare HospiTell

At Windham Hospital, a side order of kindness

A new program at Windham Hospital is providing local elementary students a way to practice altruism while also bringing a smile to hospital patients’ faces.

 Called “Well Wishes and Dishes,” it’s the brainchild of East Region Community Health Manager Joseph Zuzel. Zuzel approached Kathleen Monroe, speech-language pathologist and Special Education team leader at the Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy, with the idea of having students create get well cards for patients at Windham Hospital.

 Launched in early October, the students make the cards, which are then delivered to new patients at Windham on their lunch trays. So far, 259 cards have been delivered to Windham, and more than 100 have been delivered to patients.

 “Part of what this accomplishes is it helps to erase any stigmas kids may have about hospitals or being in the hospital,” Zuzel said. “It also speaks to their social and emotional needs, being able to make something that will make someone else feel better - that’s huge for kids, and even more right now during the pandemic. To do something nice for someone you don’t even know, that’s learning altruism.”

 At the STEM Barrows Academy, the initiative is meant to prompt teachers to have a conversation with their students about community and messages that would be positive. Each month, students have a different theme to address when they make the cards. Topics up for discussion include altruism, empathy, compassion, responsibility, generosity, inclusion, fairness.