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New app sends patients on prehistoric virtual journey at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital

Michele Oka Doner’s “Ancient Arb” is a public work of art that can be found on the floors of the lobby at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

“Mama, look at the dinosaurs!” exclaimed three-year-old Avery Holdsworth as she awaited her cardiology appointment at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. An open-heart surgery survivor, Avery is no stranger to the hospital, but at this visit, Foozel, a new iPad application and coordinating coloring book, is keeping her—and her parents—occupied.

Launched in November 2014 thanks to a partnership between the University of Michigan Credit Union (UMCU) and the University of Michigan Health System, Foozel takes users on a virtual journey from the bronze fossil floor showcased at the main entrance of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital back in time to the prehistoric era of the dinosaurs. Through the app’s adventure, the fossil floor breaks and transforms into a starry sky and leads the user through several games to track down fossils, repair the floor and return to present day.

“The app is a great way to pass the time during what can be a tense waiting period,” said Doug Holdsworth, Avery’s father. “As a bonus, there’s a coloring book that goes with it, keeping her occupied and actually excited to be here.”

Both the app and coloring book were designed and developed by University of Michigan students and alumni. Sarah Renken, a Stamps School of Art & Design student, is the artist behind the coloring book, while Sebastian Martinez, a student in the College of Engineering, came up with the idea for the app. Malcolm MacLachlan, a School of Information master’s student, was responsible for the app development with the help of graphic designers Jessica Krcmarik and Marian Perez, 2012 alumnae of the Stamps School of Art & Design. Krcmarik also designed the coloring book’s exterior while Perez, creative director for Foozel and UMCU’s graphic designer, oversaw the product development.

“It is really amazing that I had the chance to work on Foozel,” said MacLachlan. “This was a unique opportunity to serve a community that is wholesome and positive.”

Renken added, “I have always been interested in how art and health are interwoven and this project allowed me to give back by providing a creative outlet for pediatric patients. It was a wonderful experience”

Foozel was made possible by a three-year pledge of $342,000 from UMCU to benefit the C.S. Mott Children’s and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospitals. Part of the gift has been used to support the “Ancient Arb I” bronze fossil floor showcased at the main entrance of the hospital created by internationally acclaimed artist Michele Oka Doner. The bronze, terrazzo, mother-of-pearl and shell inlay has become a showpiece in the hospital lobby and a must-see for patients.

“The University of Michigan Credit Union was able to bring the Foozel app to life with the ongoing support and facilitation of the University of Michigan’s Business Engagement Center,” said Perez. “As a U-M alumna, I am particularly honored to be part of this project and to have been able to collaborate with a number of incredible people to make the magical world of Foozel come to life.”

ABOUT FOOZEL An iPad application, Foozel begins in the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital lobby where the fossil floor breaks and transforms into a starry sky, taking its audience back in time to the prehistoric era of the dinosaurs. The goal is to collect fossil floor pieces from each of the four games and repair the fossil floor. Once all four pieces are collected, the audience is returned to the present-day lobby. Download Foozel for free in the App Store.

ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN CREDIT UNION (UMCU) The University of Michigan Credit Union (UMCU) is a member owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative. UMCU, established in 1954, is locally focused and fully connected to our members, the University, and community. UMCU is honored to be able to contribute and collaborate in the amazing work done by the University of Michigan Health System, as it continues to pursue excellence in healthcare. To learn more about UMCU please visit

ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN’S BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT CENTER Sponsored jointly by the University of Michigan’s Offices of Research and Development, the Business Engagement Center (BEC) was established in 2007 as the pathway connecting businesses and community organizations with the remarkable talent and resources at U-M. Business Engagement at the University inspires successful collaboration and acts as a catalyst to create meaningful, invaluable partnerships, while extending the academic excellence of the University beyond the classroom.

Written by Amanda Holdsworth, U-M Business Engagement Center.