Josephine’s Garden, at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center, was inspired by Josephine Rispoli, a 6-year old pediatric cancer patient who longed for the outdoors since her treatment required extended hospitalizations that restricted her environment. Josephine and her mom Heidi wanted to have a garden at the hospital since there was no place for patients to go outside that was easily accessible. Josephine wanted a place where her and other MVPs could play outdoors, see the flowers abloom, breathe fresh air, feel the sunshine, and most of all, just be kids.
After a yearlong battle that included numerous surgeries, 5 rounds of high-dose chemotherapy, 2 auto-stem cell transplants, and 6 weeks of daily spinal and cranial radiation, Josephine lost her fight on October 23, 2011.
In memory of Josephine Rispoli, one our most courageous MVPs, Josephine’s Garden was unveiled on July 9, 2012, the day Josephine would have turned 8-years old. A rooftop space that was not being utilized became an ideal place to build a garden. The garden has everything Josephine dreamed of, including a wishing fountain, a climbing boulder, a chalkboard, inspirational artwork, and a warrior pole where kids can carve their names to represent their battle.
The Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital sees more 100,000 visits annually. Each patient who walks through the doors of the Children’s Hospital now has the opportunity to visit and enjoy Josephine’s Garden. The garden is easily accessible and open all year-round. Studies even shows that pediatric healing gardens can help boost immunity, reduce levels of pain or stress, and elevate mood.