Don’t Give Up!

This week I accepted a Fall Child Life Internship! I’m so excited for what this next chapter of my Child Life journey is going to bring.

I could use this blog post to tell you all about how excited I am, how relieved that the internship application process is over or about my plans for next semester. All of this is happening, but instead I want to speak to those who did not get an internship offer.

If you don’t get an internship, don’t give up! If you truly are passionate about Child Life and want to become a Certified Child Life Specialist, then you will. It might just take a little longer than you expected. Child Life is very competitive. Some hospitals will receive over 75 applicants for their one internship position. So if you did not get an internship this semester, it means that you have time to expand your horizons and build your resume to make yourself more competitive next time.

If you looking for something to add to your experience, think about populations that you haven’t worked with yet. Maybe you have a lot of time spent with oncology patients, but you haven’t worked very many other diagnoses. Or you’ve worked with healthy kids, but don’t have much experience with children with special needs. A wide variety of experiences will give you many skills that can be used when working with kids as a Child Life Specialist. If you’re looking for something new, check out my list for getting volunteer experience. Let me know if you have other ideas that I can add to the list!

“No one has the power to shatter your dreams unless you give it to them.” – Maeve Greyson

Fabulous Find Friday: Sara’s Smiles Foundation

Today’s spotlight is on the Sara’s Smiles Foundation. They are an organization that put together kits for children who are fighting cancer. Their inspiration kit includes the following:

  • A file for important papers
  • A form letter to notify and reach out to friends, family and community
  • A tote bag to carry items throughout the hospital
  • Reusable Sticker Corners to display photos, artwork, etc. on walls
  • A door hanger and washable markers to personalize one’s room
  • A squeeze toy for stress release
  • An art pad for self-expression
  • A “Picture Me Proud” Card to share milestones and/or special accomplishments
  • Small Toys for amusement and distraction
  • A “Follow Us” Card to share pictures and stories with Sara’s Smiles

Visit their site to learn more about resources for kids with Cancer and to order kits: http://www.saras-smiles.org/links.htm

 

Fabulous Find Friday: Marshmallow Launchers

This Friday’s Fabulous Find is Marshmallow Launchers. I learned about these at the National Child Life Conference this summer and they are easy to use and super helpful. It is basically a recorder like tool, without the holes, that can be filled with small marshmallows. Through deep breathes, these marshmallows can be shot out to targets. Visit Kelsey Kids to learn more about it!

Their site also includes a section with “Helpful Advice from a Child Life Specialist.” Check out what they have to say:

Benefits of Marshmallow Launcher play:

  • It increases ambulation (as a child moves about the room to pick up marshmallows and gets in and out of bed).
  • It improves respiratory status from pleasurable activity, additional benefit from sucking marshmallow back into tube before exhaling to launch marshmallow.
  • Provides normalization of environment through play.
  • Shows decreased flat effect when pelting a nurse with a marshmallow.
  • Provides aggression release.

Patients that would benefit from Marshmallow Launcher play include:

  • Any patient able to exhale forced air, usually over 5 years old.
  • Any patient spending excessive time in bed due to surgery, chest tubes, pneumonia, or treatment, burns, etc.
  • Any patient who needs an outlet during or after a painful procedure- for example, Marshmallow Launcher play can be used during dressing changes.
  • Any patient needing to release aggression or feelings. (You can encourage patients to create targets that display the objects of their fear, anger, or frustration.)

 

 

Fabulous Find Friday: ACCO

ACCO stands for American Childhood Cancer Organization and they are our Fabulous Find today!

I learned about ACCO at the Child Life Conference this past summer. They not only work to create awareness about childhood cancer, encourage research and offer support, but they also provide education resources to parents/teacher/doctors and can provide resources for you!

To find their free educational resources, visit http://www.acco.org/books/ and scroll down to the section under Books for Parents. You will see “Professionals and Educators: Request a Desk Set of Our Informational Resources” This  desk set includes a medical play kit, books for patients and their families, general education books about cancer and more. I highly recommend you check out the ACCO!

 

Julia is coming to Sesame Street

Meet Julia! Julia has autism and she is the newest Muppet on Sesame Street.

Julia was introduced to better prepare children when they meet playmates and friends who have autism. In March 2014, it was believed that about 1 in 68 children have autism spectrum disorder. By bringing Julia to Sesame Street, the writers aren’t teaching children everything there is to learn about autism but they are exposing children to a Muppet with autism. As Child Life Specialists, we know the importance of preparation and education. What a great form of preparation for children preparing to enter school, or even any environment in which they will meet other children. 60 Minutes has a great article about Julia and the show which you can find here.

Sesame Street is a great show for kids. What are some of you favorite kids shows and why?

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Fabulous Find Friday: Project Sunshine

Today’s Fabulous Find Friday is Project Sunshine. I learned about this group at the National Child Life Conference back in May.

Project Sunshine is a nonprofit organization that provides free educational, recreational, and social programs to children facing medical challenges and their families.

Project Sunshine empowers a dynamic and dedicated corps of over 15,000 volunteers to bring programming – recreational (arts), educational (tutoring and mentoring) and social service (HIV and nutritional counseling) – to 100,000 children facing medical challenges and their families in 175 cities across the United States and in four international locations: Canada, China, Israel and Kenya.

Volunteers selflessly donate their time to create program materials and deliver programs. Working onsite, our volunteers relieve the anxiety of the young patients and in a context of fun and play, foster in them the courage and coping skills necessary to confront procedures that lie ahead.

Project Sunshine volunteers spread sunshine, restoring a crucial sense of normalcy to the pediatric healthcare environment.

Project Sunshine has a bunch of volunteer opportunities for both students and also community members. So be sure to check out their website: http://www.projectsunshine.org/volunteer/index.php

Fabulous Find Friday: Child Life Connection

If you are a student, then you are going to love this Fabulous Find! Today’s Fabulous Find is Child Life Connection.

Child Life Connection works to spread awareness about Child Life. Their mission is below.

Child Life Connection brings play, diversion and education into pediatric settings, all in an effort to make being in the hospital less scary for children!

I first learned about this site because I took my Intro to Child Life Course from the founder, Belinda Hammond. I would encourage you to check out their page and also follow Child Life Connection on FB. As students, we should be looking for every educational opportunity possible to learn more about child life. Child Life Connection is a great place to get started.

Fabulous Find Friday: Playopolis Toys

Today’s Fabulous Find Friday is Playopolis Toys!

If you are already working in the field, you probably already know about Playopolis. If you’re not, great! I’m glad I can share this toy company with you.

If the name sounds familiar, Playopolis makes the ever popular light spinners that are so great at distraction. If you’re not looking to buy toys right now, you might be wondering how this fabulous find can help you. Even if you’re not in the hospital right now, checking out the toys on this site gives you great insight into what kinds of toys are out there. Think about what the toy might be used for and what population you could give it to. Then when you do enter the hospital, you will be somewhat familiar with the toys.

Fabulous Find Friday: Little Patient

A friend recently suggested the Little Patient for Fabulous Find Fridays and I think it is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen!

When she told me about the Little Patient, her exact words were “You can get a boy, a girl, or both, and they are dressed in little hospital gowns. Their tummies unzip to reveal many organs that are velcroed into place, so they are easy to take out, play with, and replace.” It was her favorite Christmas gift this year!

As you can probably see from the image above, the Little Patient comes with all the major organs. It would be a great teaching tool for children to learn about what’s inside our bodies. It is a plush toy, so it might be hard to incorporate into Child Life Practice at the hospital. But, the Little Patient would be great to give as a gift to help a child or in a setting that doesn’t have as strict infection control rules.

The Little Patient is available online here

Responding to the Call: Children’s Disaster Services

I am super excited to share with you that this past weekend, I completed my training to become a Child Disaster Services (CDS) volunteer. What does this mean? When the Red Cross responds to a disaster, they typically set up a shelter. When Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) responds, they set up a day care in the shelter to help the children begin the healing process after the trauma of the disaster.

So what does this day care look like? I don’t want to spoil the awesome training for you, but I will say that it is a typical set up. There is an arts and crafts section, a quiet section with books and stuffed toys, a dramatic play area to allow for role play, and cars/trucks/other toys. One crucial difference is that the items are specifically selected to help the children express themselves and hopefully to begin the healing process. In the pile of cars/trucks, there are emergency vehicles similar to the ones that the children might have seen. There is paint so that the children can express what they have seen if they want to. The selected books often have meaning behind their cute titles and adorable characters. If possible, CDS volunteers try to set up water play or rice for sensory play.

Why is this important for children after trauma? Play is the language of children! It’s how they process the world around them and how they communicate to others about their experiences. After a disaster, parents have a lot to think about. They often have to figure out where the family will live, find a way to replace what was lost, fill out paperwork for a variety of organizations that will help….if they fill out the correct form in the right way. Children’s Disaster Services provides the parents with some time to take care of themselves and they provide the children with a safe place to begin to express themselves.

Check out their site to learn more and find a training near you: http://www.brethren.org/cds/