Posted by: Duke Raleigh Hospital | July 4, 2019

Rock Garden at Duke Raleigh Hospital Has Positive Message

KidsCan! Children

Children involved in the KidsCan! Program pose near the rock garden on the Duke Raleigh Hospital campus.

Outside Duke Cancer Center Raleigh there is a garden where many go for the views and some quiet reflection.

Follow the winding paths to its center and there are brightly colored rocks with messages such as “Love for Dad,” “You are a superstar!,” and “Always look for the positive, be intentional.”

These new additions to the garden are meant to inspire those who may be struggling. They were created through the KidsCan! Program, established through a partnership with the Duke Cancer Patient Support Program and the Holt Brothers Foundation to aid children who have a parent with cancer. Creation of the rocks has been a part of these two-hour monthly meetings for children and their families since the program launched in Wake County in March.

“The rocks give the children of KidsCan! the opportunity to care for others,” said Hannah Sasser, child life specialist for KidsCan! of Duke Cancer Center Raleigh. “Making the rocks and using them in monthly meetings and sharing them in the garden gives these children something positive to do with their sadness and the frustration of coping with a difficult diagnosis for a parent.”

KidsCan! is designed for children ages 4-18 years of age and brings families together over a meal. After the meal, children create the colored rocks with drawings or inspirational messages to use during their small-group activities. During these group activities, they learn more about the disease and use the rocks to talk with other kids who have a family member with cancer while parents meet to discuss the impact of cancer on their families.

ribbon cutting ceremony

Family members of the late Ashley Linden, the creator of Rocks of Hope, and Susan Garrett, who took over the Rocks of Hope Initiative joined the ribbon cutting ceremony on June 4.

On June 4, the rock garden debuted with a ribbon cutting ceremony during the Duke Cancer Center Raleigh Survivorship Day, mostly comprised of rocks made by children enrolled in KidsCan! at Duke Raleigh Hospital. The rocks were an idea that grew from the Rocks of Hope Initiative that was started by the late Ashley Linden, Sasser said.

In the month KidsCan! Rocks has existed on campus, visitors, staff, and volunteers have joined the program’s children to contribute new rocks using supplies stocked in a small house adjacent to the rock garden beside Duke Cancer Center Raleigh, 3404 Wake Forest Road.

“We encourage our staff and the community to take a rock or use the supplies on site to make a rock for someone else to find,” said Sasser, who noted that visits to the garden are now a regular part of KidsCan! monthly meetings. “My greatest hope is that the rocks let the children of KidsCan! know that someone is thinking of them and cares about them. In the months ahead, we hope to continue to grow our rainbow garden and spread more optimism and creativity not only to these children, but to the greater Raleigh community.”

Want to Participate?

On Saturday, July 20, from 8 a.m. to noon, KidsCan! will be at the Duke Raleigh Hospital booth at the Midtown Farmer’s Market. Stop by to paint your own rock for the garden and learn more about KidsCan! and our child life services offerings.

Families interested in registering for KidsCan! in Wake County may contact Hannah Sasser, or 919-954-4117. Meetings are held the third Thursday of every month from 6-8 p.m.


–By Erin McKenzie

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