LACONIA — The stress and worry of having to be in the hospital can be detrimental to the healing process. However, the thought of someone nearby, wishing them well, can be strong medicine, and it’s a kind of medicine that you don’t have to be a doctor to administer. That’s the point that Ashley Black, a teacher at Woodland Heights Elementary School, was trying to make with a school-wide project she spearheaded this year.

That project culminated last week, when a parade of children walked from the school to Lakes Region General Hospital, carrying with them care packages to be given to patients in the oncology department, and bags of puzzles and pencils for children waiting in the emergency department.

Every grade level in the school participated in the project. Black said the idea came up during a discussion she was having with her second-grade class.

“We’ve been talking about kindness in the community. There were a couple of kids talking about family members in the hospital. How could we make them feel better?” Black said, “I think they’re getting that other people are going through tough things, that they can help them and spread some kindness.”

The school assembled a total of 20 packets for the emergency room, and 40 care packages for oncology patients.

“We are doing this to spread a smile,” said second-grader Bella Danieli. “We are Wildcats, and Wildcats always make sure other people are happy,” she said, referring to the school’s mascot.

Connor Ialuna, a first-grader, was able to relate to the project on a personal level. He had to spend some time in the hospital last year for a corrective surgery. During that time, he said, he felt “Bad, it was hurting me so much.”

He was thinking about that when he was writing a get-well card to be given to patients, a card he would have liked to get when he was recovering.

“We can do it to make the kids feel good,” Ialuna said.

Kevin Donovan, chief executive officer of LRGHealthcare, greeted the children when they arrived at the hospital’s front entrance with the gifts.

“As a not-for-profit community organization, we are really happy that our schools are teaching kindness, caring for our community,” Donovan said. “I’m so impressed that kids these age are thinking of others and not just themselves.”

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