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CHAPEL HILL, NC (AP) — A small grant is helping hospitalized North Carolina children get in contact with nature in ways they’re otherwise not allowed to do because of their compromised immune systems.

The North Carolina Botanical Garden at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is using the $25,000 grant to create a hands-on nature exhibit.

The idea is to lift the spirits of children at UNC Hospitals by loading a pushcart with a sealed greenhouse-type structure with built-in gloves that allow hospitalized kids to reach inside to plant seeds and eventually watch their seeds sprout.

Because many of these children are suffering from ailments that make germs more dangerous than normal, they’re not allowed contact with natural materials like soils, seeds or live plants.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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