Passionate educators and students gathered Sunday to practice caring, nurturing and attentive actions that child life specialists provide in medical settings.
A child life specialist is a trained professional who minimizes the stress and anxiety hospitalized children may face.
The University of La Verne has an extensive master’s of science child life program that prepares students for careers with hospitalized children.
Leslie Anne Young, chair of the child life program, has worked as a child life specialist for 15 years.
With her wide-range of knowledge and experience, Young created the Child Life Day in order to give students real life scenarios they will experience in medical facilities.
“I tried to make the day as effective and efficient as possible for my students,” Young said.
With 17 students, 17 children and 10 child life specialists, the day consisted of many fun and educational activities.
Each student was placed in a room with a child, and in some cases the parents of the child were present.
The children were volunteers and many had experienced being in a medical setting due to illnesses or operations.
The classrooms were filled with fun and creative games that students have been preparing since the beginning of the semester.
The activities were used to bring comfort to the children and to educate them on the hospital setting.
“It was a really good experience,” said Stephanie Talley, a graduate student in the Child Life program from Glendora.
Talley explained that preparing for this event was a lot of work but well worth it.
“The aspect of helping children and family bond together is very rewarding,” Talley said.
A child life specialist utilizes a variety of interventions such as education, therapeutic play, family centered care, pain management techniques, care plans and grief interventions to enhance the children and adolescents’ self-esteem, coping skills and independence.
“Supporting and giving the child empowerment to be a child is vital,” Chole Krikac, a graduate student in child life said. “And making children understand that their illness does not define who they are.”
The activities were all based on the child’s needs to allow the specialist to be successful in helping the child emotionally.
Trisha Winters, another graduate student participating in the event, had a child that had experienced their tonsils being removed. Their activity was to have the child write on their body with shaving cream all of the emotions they felt about their medical situation.
“It feels great to be that person to support them and mediate the child’s situation with their medical provider,” Winters said.
Once all the emotions were written on the body, the child was able to go on a Slip N’ Slide and wash away those hurtful and negative emotions.
Many activities like slap painting, puppet shows, origami, balloon popping, silly string spraying, and mask painting were used to help the children find comfort and be able to release their pain and anxiety.
Educational games such as a scavenger hunt with medical instruments and syringe painting were conducted, to help children understand their medical ambiance of the settings.
Sara and Anna Scna were two of the many children volunteers who attended the event.
They have been attending this workshop for three years and both agree that they have a lot of fun learning and participating in the activities.
Mark Goor, dean of the College of Education and Organizational Leadership, participated in the activities with students and children.
“It’s been a real good interactive experience,” Jessica Kubasak, a graduate student of child life, said.
Kubasak said that it has helped her prepare creative ideas and dialogue for these scenarios.
Most students agreed that Child Life Day has brought confidence to their learning experience.
They are now able to comfortably apply these actions to real life scenarios.
Though many children may be in hospitalized conditions, child life specialists do what they can to bring happiness and a rewarding smile to a child’s face.
Maxtla Benavides can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.