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Pittsburgh gardens devoted to young patients

From their daughter Noe's third-floor room in The Children's Home & Lemieux Family Center, Sherry and Jason Ott watched young patients playing behind the hospital.

Noe died Dec. 2, 2009, just 5 months old, from a rare genetic disorder that caused heart complications. After Noe's death, the Otts decided to create a butterfly garden at the Lawrenceville hospital for other children in her memory.

"They'll be able to come and enjoy the butterflies and witness the evolution of life," said Sherry Ott, 36, of New Alexandria in Westmoreland County. She spoke on Wednesday before a dozen monarch butterflies were released to dedicate Noe's Garden of Hope.

Earlier, The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh announced a $30,000 donation from the Kennametal Foundation for a children's planting garden, part of The Nimick Family Therapeutic Garden on Shady Avenue.

The institute offers an in-patient hospital for children, an outpatient clinic and a day school for children with neurological problems, including autism. The $1.1 million garden is part of a $30 million capital campaign to buy the building in Squirrel Hill from UPMC and expanding the facility and programs. The garden, which will be formally dedicated on June 18, features an interactive fountain, a wheelchair-accessible treehouse and a pavilion shaded by galvanized steel butterflies.

Elisa Stanley, a teacher at the institute, said the greenery helps her students, especially those with autism.

"The calming aspect is very important," she said.

"It's so pretty," said Gretel Krigar, 17, of Mars, a student at the institute's day school. "I like the flowers."

The Children's Home offers a 28-bed specialty hospital, an extended-care center for medically fragile infants and children, and units that prepare seriously ill children and their families for the transition to home.

The Otts remember Noe's strength and how mesmerized she was by the blue Christmas lights strung up on her crib by staff members.

"She had an incredible spirit about her. She had bright blue eyes that lit up the room," her mother said.

The couple provided the material, designed and helped plant Noe's Garden, which features plants such as veronica, autumn joy sedum and daylillies; a dogwood tree; and a daisy sculpture — a symbol for parents who have lost children.

Emily Harrick of Upper St. Clair visited the garden with her 5-month-old son, Ryder, who has a lymphatic disorder and has spent his entire life at nearby Children's Hospital and The Children's Home.

She said the garden reminds her that "it's just one step toward being close to home."

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