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Melodie E. Lopez, designer of the new mural painted by the Sigonella Mom’s Club, stands with the finished project in Naval Hospital Sigonella’s pediatric ward. The NAS Sigonella Religious Ministries Department funded the mural.

Melodie E. Lopez, designer of the new mural painted by the Sigonella Mom’s Club, stands with the finished project in Naval Hospital Sigonella’s pediatric ward. The NAS Sigonella Religious Ministries Department funded the mural. (Sarah Bohannon / U.S. Navy)

Children staying overnight at the U.S. Naval Hospital Sigonella can push GameBoy buttons rather than play with their bed controls.

Their beds used to face a drab wall. Now they can look at a colorful underwater-theme mural of a ballerina octopus and other friendly sea creatures.

The hospital’s first pediatric recovery room, dedicated Friday, features dozens of toys, games, books, videos and two GameBoys.

“We made it a comfortable room for kids so, after surgery, it’s not so scary a stay for them,” said Molly Jacobsen, former president of the Sigonella, Sicily, chapter of Moms Offering Moms Support.

As part of a community service project, the nonprofit organization for stay-at-home parents turned a regular hospital room into something more welcoming for kids. The idea came from a club member’s wife, a nurse who said the staff had a hard time keeping a young patient entertained during a weeklong stay.

The base chapel donated $1,000 to the MOMS club, which also used its own funds and worked with other organizations to stock the room with new toys, said Jacobsen, 26, from DeWitt, Iowa.

Club members painted the mural, designed by member Melodie Lopez, which covers the wall facing the patients’ two beds. The design features happy sea animals and children playing in the water.

“We wanted something really colorful,” said Lopez, 27, from Chicago.

About three children a month spend a night in the hospital, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Kelly Joseph, the leading petty officer for the multiservice ward.

“Some kids get to the point they want to go home, be in their own bed,” said Joseph, 30, a hospitalman from LaPorte, Texas. “This is a way for them to actually feel more comfortable ... and keep their minds off being there.”


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