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March 30, 2017
For the month of March, Children’s Wish Foundation is celebrating every Child Life Specialist that has made a difference in the lives of children and families around the world. On behalf of Wish kids everywhere, we want to thank each and every Child Life Specialist for all that they’ve done to help children face their illness head on. In the event of Child Life month, what better way to celebrate their hard work and dedication than to feature a few of the Child Life Specialists that we work with on a daily basis. Reading their stories has brought tears to our faces and joy to our hearts. Enjoy!
I have been a Child Life Specialist for almost 12 years now! My first position was at Jackson-Madison Co General Hospital in Jackson, TN from 2004-2006, and I have been at Children’s of Alabama ever since! I currently work in the Solid Organ Transplant Department, but prior to this position I was in the Dialysis Unit for 5 years. I graduated in 2004 with a BS in Human Development and Family Studies with a Child Life concentration, and completed my MA in Human Relations through the Liberty University. When I am not working, I am spending my time with my feisty little 5 month old daughter, Annalise!
As soon as I found out about the child life profession, I said “That is it! That is my dream job!” I always knew I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children and their families, but could never develop a true passion for the professions I had looked into pursuing. My mom had actually read about Child Life my freshman year of college and mentioned it to me, and that day I changed my major and never looked back! As soon as I learned there was a field in the medical profession that involved play, teaching, family centered care, grief work, and emotional support, I was sold. I guess mother’s really do know best!
I have had the pleasure of working with the Children’s Wish Foundation for about 5 years now. There are not enough positive things I can say about this organization and the joy these wonderful people bring to so many lives. The patients I serve go through multiple surgeries, tests, procedures, and are hospitalized frequently. The patients as well as their families frequently miss school, work, their friends, family, sports, and any type of normalcy for years at a time, and it often times takes a toll on everyone’s spirit. The pure joy and excitement that comes across their face when they hear that there is a wonderful organization that can provide them and their immediate family a wish of their dreams is absolutely priceless. Tears often come to my eyes when I have witnessed all the struggles a young child has been through, not knowing if he/she will make it to their next birthday, and all of a sudden nothing but happiness fills the room as they start talking to their parents and siblings about fulfilling their biggest dream which would not happen without Children’s Wish Foundation. The lengths this organization goes thru to make these wishes come true is unreal, and it shows when the patients and families come back to their hospital routine re-energized and ecstatic showing pictures and talking about what fun they had for years to come. They truly make dreams come true for such deserving families. And they are such a pleasure to work with! I am so thankful for the Children’s Wish Foundation!
The profession allows me to work with many different families from different backgrounds, helping them to learn about and cope with their diagnosis and hospital journey. I love that every day is different, that I get to work with the entire family as well as the patient, and that I get to play a small part in making the patients and families hospital experience as fun and positive as possible. It truly is so rewarding to watch these patients grow from feeling confused, scared, and alone to mastering and “owning” their disease, scars, and journey knowing you played a large role in alleviating their stress, anxiety and fears for these children. The friendships and bonds these patients and families create with one another through the therapeutic environment we as Child Life Specialists create for them is so heartwarming to observe. It is truly a blessing to be a small part of these brave and courageous patient’s medical experience, and to have the opportunity to go to work everyday doing something you love and are passionate about!
Thank you for reading!