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The UF Health Children’s Healing Garden follows the Nature Explore® concept, which creates dynamic, nature-based play and learning spaces that apply research-based, field-tested design principles. Nature Explore is a program of the Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, and UF Health Shands is only the second health care facility and the first hospital in the Certified Nature Explore Classroom network.

This therapeutic garden was created especially for engaging children while they are hospitalized. Its primary purpose is for use by young inpatients whose care teams have ‘prescribed’ them time here.

The garden is a one-of-a-kind resource designed to uplift the spirits of our patients and families through distraction, relaxation and physical activity. This distinctive environment complements the superb medical care provided at our UF Health hospitals by promoting healing and wellness through connection with nature.

The garden includes walking paths, butterfly gardens, a relaxation area with seating, raised gardening beds and interactive areas for children of all ages to engage in unstructured exploratory play. The concrete paths in our wheeled toy and open areas are stamped with animal prints and leaves. The wheeled toy area gives children a chance to develop their muscles, and the open area allows children to run, dance and play.

Thank you to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and the National Environmental Education Foundation for collaborating with UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital on this project.

Healing garden benches
healing garden


While children and families will be free to explore and roam our Children’s Healing Garden when it officially opens, we have also put together some fun activities to guide you on your way.