Child Life Specialists are teachers, support, advocates, therapeutic touch, art buddies, child development specialists, story tellers, positive influences, toy drive organizers, de-coders of medical language, empathizers, distraction providers, cartoon experts, volunteer managers and skilled listeners.
Child Life Specialists aim to reduce any negative effects of hospitalization on children and their families by reducing stress and anxiety. When I asked one of Swedish's child life specialists about their work, she said they feel very lucky to work in a healthcare system that cares so well for our young patients and families.
To help illustrate the work of Child Life Specialists, enjoy this poem (by Steve Slowinski).
What I’m not:
A social worker.
A “Keeper of the Toys.”
A magical “make-this-kid-not-cry” person.
Only someone to play with the kids.
I’m not superfluous.
What I am:
I am a teacher,
A helping hand,
An active listener,
A therapeutic touch,
And a child development specialist
I am an OR prep-er,
An IV teacher,
A de-coder of PICC, VCUG, MRI and NG,
A distraction provider,
An inpatient support,
And a guide and voice for siblings
All in the same day.
I am calm despite cancer, CAT scans, and catheters.
I am strong in the face of syncope, sickle cell, and surgery.
Kids can’t always do these things for themselves.
That’s why I’m here.
I am deliberate in all of my actions and words
Because I use the language of children
And it has power.
I am flexible and go where I’m needed
Because children can’t always be flexible
About when they’re going to freak.
I am not here to merely play with children,
give them toys, and distract them
I’m a Child Life Specialist.
When kids say they can’t, I tell them they can.
Happy Child Life Month, and thanks to all child life specialists for the work that you do!