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Wings On Wheels℠ to connect community with compassion and creativity

Posted By: Make Medicine Better meta_seperate Date Posted: February 20th, 2013 meta_seperate Category: Caregiving

You will soon see a colorful van, painted with butterflies, driving through the streets of the St. Louis metropolitan area.  Wings on Wheels℠  (W.O.W.) , a mobile grief and supportive therapy program, will provide expressive therapy, free of charge, to the community. This new program is just one additional way that Wings, the BJC Pediatric Hospice and Palliative Care Program, is fulfilling its mission to provide care – not only to the children and families of Wings, but to the entire community affected by losses great and personal.

“The W.O.W. vehicle and therapist will visit patients and their families at their homes as well as peers of a child in the pediatric hospice program,” says Barbara Westland, BJC Hospice director. “In addition, it will go to children in larger community settings (schools, scout troops, churches, care centers, community events, etc.) where grief support is desperately needed following a death or community tragedy. Wings on Wheels will fill a void and foster connection and compassion within our community.”

The Wings program has long provided clinical, emotional and spiritual support and services to children who have life-threatening or life-limiting illnesses, regardless of their ability to pay.

The Wings on Wheels vehicle will make its debut at the Butterfly Bash on Friday, February 22, 2013 at the Palladium Saint Louis. Here, the city’s top chefs will come together at the Butterfly Bash which will feature food, drink and music in a colorful, lively and festive atmosphere. Justin Willman, St. Louis native and host of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and Last Cake Standing, will perform his signature style of magic and host the evening’s program. Premier chefs will offer samplings of some of St Louis’s finest food while mixologists will be on hand preparing inventive cocktails. All money raised from this event will benefit Wings on Wheels. For more information or to purchase tickets,  visit

Barbara Westland,  BJC Hospice director, answers questions about Wings on Wheels.

What is Wings on Wheels?

Wings on Wheels (W.O.W.) is a mobile therapy program that will bring expressive therapy services and activities not only to Wings patients and families, but to the community at a time of the loss or illness of a close one.

How did Wings on Wheels begin? Why was it developed?
W.O.W. was developed to meet the grief support needs of a community affected by loss or illness of someone in their lives. In addition, children and families on the Wings program expressed the need for increased activity and communication with those in their extended family/larger community to connect them to the ill or dying child in meaningful ways.

Do you have to be connected with the Wings program to receive services?

No. Wings on Wheels will provide services for Wings patients and their extended community as well as for children in the St. Louis Metropolitan area who are experiencing change and grief due to the loss or death of a significant person in their lives.

What is expressive therapy?

It is the use of creative art forms such as visual art, writing, and music to help individuals understand who they are and what they’re experiencing, express feelings and ideas that words cannot, and enhance life and connection. It helps grieving children understand the loss, express the meaning of the loss, and honor their relationship connections.

What kind of projects will the therapists do with kids?

Some examples of projects include drawings, letter writing, poetry, flags, masks, pillowcase art, hope or memory boxes….and many more!

Is there an age range for the program?

W.O.W. will provide services for preschool age children through young adult (4-21 years).

Is there community support (corporate/individual sponsors)? How is W.O.W. funded?

Wings on Wheels is funded by Friends of Wings and the generosity of the community…both corporate and individual sponsors.

What is the cost to have therapists visit?
There is no charge to the patients or community for W.O.W. visits -making community support through donations even more crucial to the programs’ success.

How long will the W.O.W. vehicle be in St. Louis?

The W.O.W. vehicle will be a permanent and visible feature in the metropolitan St. Louis area to familiarize the community to the services provided by Wings on Wheels.


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