Last week I finished my volunteering at the Milwaukee Child Advocacy Center. It was such an amazing experience!
My volunteer role was in the waiting room. When there were patients, I engaged in developmentally appropriate play with them. When there weren’t any patients, I cleaned toys. Although there was a Child Life Specialist at the Advocacy Center where I volunteered, most of my time was spent playing with the patients in the waiting room. Besides being a really fun volunteer job, it was also great practice in building rapport. In order to really help patients, Child Life Specialists have to be able to build rapport with the child. In settings like the Emergency Department or clinics, that rapport needs to be developed quickly since you typically don’t have time to get to know the patient in a playroom session.
Play in the waiting room was also very important for normalization, especially so for this population. For those of you that don’t know, a Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is a place for abused and traumatized children. The CAC in Milwaukee offers medical exams, forensic interviews, advocates, social workers and psychologists. If kids are in the waiting room, it typically meant that there was alleged abuse. So play took on the essential role of normalization. It also helped them feel safe in the new place where they would soon be asked many questions and examined by the doctor.
“The body heals with play, the mind heals with laughter and the soul heals with joy.”