Wonder Connection is a grant and donor funded program of the North Carolina Botanical Garden at UNC-Chapel Hill. The program used to be known as Healing and Hope Through Science.
Founder Katie Stoudemire was a volunteer at several different children’s hospitals during and after college. She recognized that hospitalized children and adolescents experience pain, fear, boredom, and isolation from peers as well as almost complete isolation from the natural world. Katie always loved being outside and figured that if she was hospitalized, she’d want a way to engage her mind and connect to nature. With the hospital’s permission, Katie started bringing natural objects with her to the hospital and was amazed at the positive results. After several years of fundraising, Wonder Connection was founded in 2006 with a small discretionary grant from the Oak Foundation. Wonder Connection’s science programming increases patients’ science knowledge, provides patients with joy, and acts as an inspiration for their futures. The natural science activities are patient-centered and focus on empowering patients by giving them the opportunity to make choices and be creative.