Child Life: The Smile Specialists

Published on in Children's View

The Smile SpecialistsThey are 89 of the most beloved people in all of Children’s Hospital. They are the bearers of toys, art supplies, musical instruments, video games, birthday cakes, holiday gifts and even visiting dogs. The kids know: When someone from Child Life, Education and Creative Arts Therapy shows up, it’s time for some fun.

Every unit in the Hospital has its own child life specialists, who have a specialized degree and have passed a national certification exam, and many have child activity coordinators too. They help children cope with illness and hospitalization through play and also explain medical procedures to kids in age-appropriate ways.

Other specialized Child Life staff run the art and music therapy programs, the Gerald B. Shreiber Pet Therapy Program, the Hospital School Program, and Seacrest Studios with its Galaxy 51 TV network.

Right now, the entire Child Life staff is setting up Snowflake Station, a room filled to the brim with donated toys that will be offered free to patient families whose children can’t celebrate at home.

We spent two days observing Child Life staff from nine areas in the Hospital and only scratched the surface of the countless smiles they give patients every single day.

We affirmed what CHOP families have told us over and over: Child Life has some of the warmest, kindest, friendliest people on the planet.

Health insurance doesn’t pay for patients to have fun at the hospital, so almost all of Child Life’s work is supported by philanthropic donations.

To all who have given to all areas of CHOP this year, thank you. These are some of the many beautiful moments you have made possible.

 

— Eugene Myers and Julie Sloane