As we all know, there are hundreds of wonderful charities and organizations dedicated to the well being of children and teens living with illness, but there is one in particular that is very near and dear to my heart. The Child Life program. Child Life operates in children’s hospitals around the United States, and is dedicated to giving developmental, educational, and emotional support to young patients and their families.
Child Life is responsible for helping children and families with everything that doctors and nurses can’t offer. They provide art, music, education, counseling, babysitting, and much much more. For people who haven’t spent much time in the hospital it can be easy to dismiss all of that as little luxuries on the side. Anyone who has spent more than a few days in the hospital with children understands that Child Life is the glue that holds everything together.
My first real memory of the Child Life program took place when I was 6-years-old, the night before a big surgery. I was too young to understand exactly what was going to be done to me the next day; I was scared and confused and felt completely powerless. That’s when a Child Life volunteer waltzed into my room with a bag of medical supplies, a cloth doll, and stack of DVDs. She introduced herself to me and said that she was going to be my surgery buddy, which instantly made me feel better.
We spent the next few hours going over all the details for the next day’s surgery on the doll, who we rightfully named Lil Claire. When we finally sewed her up, I realized I wasn’t scared anymore. That’s the power of the Child Life program. It might not be the flashiest or the most well known, but to a kid like me, who has spent a quarter of her eigtheen years of life in the hospital, it’s the difference between feeling powerless and feeling empowered.
So why, you might be wondering, am I telling you all of this? Aside from the fact that they deserve the recognition for everything they do, they are also a program that relies on people’s generous donations to function. They need our support. Child Life works mostly under the radar, not asking for much recognition for the lives they save and the joy they bring to people. So it is my job, and the job of all the other countless patients who have benefited from their help, to ensure that they can go on helping others just like us.
To show your support click on the link right here to learn more about the program and donate! You can also share this article and help spread the word!