Storybook characters move onto children's hospital grounds

Wooden figures depicting Latvian fairy tale character Sprīdītis, and other popular children's character s such as Winnie the Pooh and Shrek, will in future welcome the youngest patients outside in the sprawling campus of buildings at Riga's Children's Hospital.

On Thursday the hospital received a curious delivery in a truck carrying the odd cargo that turned many heads as it rolled through the gates.

In May students at the Kuldīga Vocational School of Technology and Tourism held a wood sculpting plein air workshop for apprentices of the craft from across Latvia, as well as guests from Lithuania and Finland. In just three days the budding carpentry masters transformed a dozen massive logs into twelve enchanting sculptures.

Dairis Volotkēvičs, who helped render A.A.Milne’s beloved character, told LTV's Judīte Čunka “Winnie the Pooh is just so nice and cute, the kids will surely love such a bear.”

This was the school’s sixth year of hosting the plein air and its motto this year was – ‘Enter my tale!’ Each participating school worked with master teachers on separate assignments.

“For these kids to get better faster and so that they feel a motivation to get back on their feet,” teacher Mārtiņš Mednieks spelled out the reasoning behind the spellbinding sculptural mission.

The hospital itself is delighted at the installation of such a storybook strolling path through a part of its campus. Medics admit the cartoon characters create good feelings, and that helps kids get better.

“The child gets out of that hospital room bed and takes a few breaths of fresh air as she walks around about the grounds and sees these fun figures. They’re works of art, made with lots of warmth,” gushed Patient Social Care and Interest Group Education Department head Indra Veismane.

Children were already rushing to the delivery trucks as they arrived with their fantastic passengers.

“Shrek!” shrieked Sindija, recognizing a favorite cartoon hero.

“It will be interesting to spend warm days outside and come hug them,” added little Inita.

“This is so very much a needed thing when you have to wait a long time at the doctor’s,” Kristers’ mom Inese Majniece was impressed. “The kids can go outside, walk, jump, especially the boys,” she added.

Fire and rescue service workers on hand to help lift the massive wooden sculptures out of the trucks were previous recipients of the Kuldiga woodworking program’s gift of cabinets and lockers for their dressing room.

“I’m so glad we managed to make these kids happy,” Mednieks told LTV.

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