Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls will soon have an accessible outdoor park

A rendering of the Billion Pavilion in front of the Sanford Children's Hospital in Sioux Falls.

Thanks to a philanthropic gift, the Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls is getting its own outdoor play park right on campus.

Sanford Health has named the park the “Billion Pavilion,” and it will serve as an accessible play space and respite area for the hospital’s pediatric patients, families and staff.

“We at Sanford Health Foundation, our job is to really listen to what those needs are and how we can continue to enhance care,” said Erin Sanderson, executive director of the Sanford Health Foundation in Sioux Falls. “We heard over and over again that we knew that there was a need for an outdoor play space, not just for the play element, but just the fresh air and getting outside and the importance of that element of healing.”

The park will include accessible play equipment for pediatric patients such as physical therapy steps and ramps for patients to do their physical therapy outside. There will also be a large caterpillar climber, a spring rider, healing garden beds, an oodle swing and a sound arch.

A shaded area with picnic tables will allow oncology patients to enjoy the outside fresh air without having sun exposure, since they have to avoid the sun after a treatment.

There will even be board games and outdoor games available upon request, and all spaces are wheelchair-accessible.

“We just want this to feel like an extension of home,” Sanderson said. “And we know the emotional turbulence that this causes families. And any sense of normalcy is critical to the patient’s healing journey, and sometimes that’s as simple as swinging on a swing.”

A project funded by generosity

The project kick-started a year ago with a conversation between the Sanford Health Foundation and Billion Automotive’s David H. and Christin Billion, who committed $1 million to the project and are behind its namesake.

Total, the cost of the pavilion is $1.4 million, and it’s 100% funded by donors, with others including Henry Carlson Company, Panda Express and Northwestern Mutual, along with several other individuals.

The climbing caterpillar is named “Henry” in honor of Henry Carlson Jr., who died last year. Henry Carlson Company made a $100,000 to the project and is also the company building it.

This rendering shows "Henry" the climbing caterpillar at the future Billion Pavilion play area in front of the Sanford Children's Hospital in Sioux Falls.

Panda Express is funding the healing and teaching gardens. The gardens will include planter beds for kids and families to plant flowers and seeds in, with the opportunity to watch them grow.

“Like I said, we want this place to be an extension of home,” Sanderson said. “We all have our own gardens at home, so we want families to feel like they are nurturing something as well.” Read the whole story at the Argus Leader.