Child Life Market

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All week long I’ve shared with you some of my favorite resources I use to help my patients cope with hospitalization. Let’s end another week with a peek into my child life market, Coping + Normalization Edition!

 Normalization
Link: http://a.co/3sqZ08E

Coping Tools
Link: http://a.co/2uwX17K

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Favorite Find

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Image Source: http://confettifoundation.org/

In January 2014, The Confetti Foundation started supplying birthday party kits to children who spend their birthdays in the hospital. Through the party kits, children of all ages are celebrated and honored on their special day.

One of my favorite duties as a CCLS is helping patients celebrate important milestones, like birthdays! I love celebrating birthdays and the Confetti Foundation makes it so much easier to transform any patient room into a party! Each box they send out is categorized by theme/gender or labeled “for everyone”. Inside you’ll find streamers and other things to decorate the patient’s room, cups, utensils, plates, and lots of other fun goodies to help celebrate. For more information on the confetti foundation click here: http://confettifoundation.org/

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Favorite Find

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tanners totes

Tanners Totes is dedicated to providing cheer to preteen and teen patients undergoing long-term hospital treatments and stays. A Tanner’s Tote is unique in that it presents the patient with a wide variety of new, non-food, items to bring some greatly needed distractions and joy.

This is another organization that I hold near and dear to my heart. The resources they provide are perfect for preteens/teens that are experiencing long hospital stays. We all know how hard it is to have games/toys/activities/resources for teens so these big tote bags are a Godsend! They include various items such as a dry erase board, uno, water bottle, sketch book, markers, colored pencils, etc. My favorite item in the bag has to be the Staples “Easy Button”. My kiddo’s always get a kick out of that one and it truly makes a positive impact during their recovery. These totes are TOTES amazing!

For more on Tanners Totes, visit https://www.tannerstotes.com/child-life-specialist

For information on getting Tanners Totes to your hospital, visit https://www.tannerstotes.com/child-life-specialist

Favorite Find

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Being that March is Child Life Month (YAY!) I am going to share with you 3 of my favorite finds throughout the week. Today is all about Pabs Packs!

“PAB” is for Pia and Abbie; that’s us. We are lifelong friends. One of the things we share is knowing what it’s like to be in the hospital feeling lousy and scared. Abbie was diagnosed at age 13 in 2013 with Type 1 diabetes. Pia received her diagnosis in 2014 at the age of 14: Stage 2A Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Thanks to the wonderful care we received at Children’s Hospitals Pia is cancer free and Abbie has her diabetes under control. With a lot of help from our families, we started PAB’S PACKS in 2014 because we wanted to help kids who are going through long days in the hospital.

I split my days between NICU and our surgery/orthopedics unit. The surgery/orthopedic unit is where I meet patients that are about to go into surgery and are in major need of some comfort. Pabs Packs are the perfect compliment to my teachings/preps prior to surgery because they include everything the patient’s need at that time.

  • A soft blanket
  • A stress ball
  • Chapstick and lotion
  • A very cute and cuddly penguin (which I’ve been able to place IV’s on during medical play to match the patient)
  • A journal with a pen (which I use to encourage patients to write any questions they may have or journal about their experience)
  • & a flyer with the inspiring story of Pia and Abbie and their journey with hospitalization

My teens absolutely love their Pabs Packs inside and out (the backpacks themselves are very chic, modern, and unisex)! I’ve seen time and time again what a tremendous positive impact they have on not just the patients, but the family as well.

NICU Graduates

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It’s a great day in NICU whenever we have a NICU graduate leaving our hospital! To commemorate this major milestone, I teamed up with volunteers to knit graduation caps. I then gave the graduation caps to our discharge nurse to give out for patients that have been admitted to our NICU for 30 days or more. These graduation caps have been a huge hit and I’ve heard parents say that it’s the best part of their whole hospital experience. See our beautiful graduation caps below modeled by my legacy preemie doll!

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Let’s talk about camp!

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Back in March, I mentioned I was working at one of my hospital’s week long camps for patients with special healthcare needs. Now that I have some more free time having finished with school, I’m ready to let you all in on the magic I witnessed during my week at camp.

Our camp is a (free) week-long spring break camp for children that need a little extra help breathing from the use of a ventilator and their families. This includes children with tracheostomies – needing a ventilator, C-PAP, Bi-PAP, or oxygen to help them breathe. The campers come from all over the world to spend their spring break doing fun activities such as going to the beach, going to the pool, going on a yacht around  Biscayne bay, and having a dance party at the hard rock cafe!

This may sound nice to anyone, but this camp has a profound positive impact on the lives of its campers. Due to their medical condition(s), many of these campers are not able to do the activities they do at camp when they’re home. Our camp is fully staffed with volunteer nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, nurse practitioners, high school volunteers, nursing school volunteers, and a child life specialist (guess who!). It is thanks to so many medical professionals volunteering that these campers have the opportunity to bathe in the ocean or in a pool. For many of the campers, our camp is the only time of the year when they are submerged under water.

Our camp also gives the campers, their siblings, and their parents an opportunity to realize that other children go through similar medical experiences – just like them! With this tone of equality and normalization set within the first day of camp, it allows the campers and their families to relax, let their guard down, and just have fun!

Needless to say, I was blown away by the immensely positive impact this camp has on the lives of its campers, their families, and the dozens of volunteers that spend their spring break vacation dedicated to this organization.

To all child life students: this is a perfect example of how to stand out in the child life world. Not only would it look impressive on a resume, it will also help you with your personal professional development and medical knowledge. I’m not going to lie, I know that for my hospital’s camp there is a big commitment for those volunteering (in the end totaling 90+ hours). But, in my opinion, it’s worth it! There are camps like the one my hospital hosts all over the country and for various medical specialty populations. Had I known about this camp earlier on in my adventure in child life, I would have totally volunteered!

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Favorite Find of the Month

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This month I stumbled across this hilarious illustration of the digestive system by “the awkward yeti”…

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After some further investigation, I came to find the artist’s website where I then found my favorite find of the month for June!

The awkward yeti has created a Kickstarter page to support his “organs attack” card game. You can watch the video of how the game is played here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/theawkwardyeti/organattack-a-card-game-by-the-awkward-yeti?ref=card

I am all for fun and creative ways to teach kids & teens about the “boring medical stuff” (their words, not mine) that happens in the hospital & the awkward yet is doing just that with his illustrations. Also, the “organs attack” card game looks like a super fun game to play with fellow medical staff. Way to go, the awkward yeti! 😍 !

Favorite find of the month 

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I’m sure I’ve mentioned before in one of my posts how much I love giving gold medals as a reward for brave patients. Especially when I was working in the ER, on a busy night  I’d easily run through a pack of medals. Often times I’ve noticed that when given a medal and a toy as a reward, patients are more excited about the medal!

This months favorite find is all about medals. We finish together is  an organization where those who have won medals can donate them to be given to children in the hospital. Our local chapter came to give some out to the kiddos in our hospital earlier this month. I love this organization and the immense positive impact it has on our pediatric patients.

Favorite Find of the Month 

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My favorite find of the month this month is an organization named“Hope Has Fun”. Founded by 10-year-old Isabella, Hope Has Fun brings the power of play to children in the hospital. Their current project is to collect items for Operation Smile’s Child Life program. This project will be open for anyone to participate in until May 2016 when they will give the donations to Operation Smile Child Life programs around the world. I am personally a huge supporter of Operation Smile’s Child Life program so I feel this is an incredible way to help out in the Child Life community. Way to go, Hope Has Fun!

For more information on Hope Has Fun visit: http://www.hopehasfun.org/

For more information on Operation Smile visit: http://www.operationsmile.org/

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

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Being a Child Life Specialist is great, but I feel that I cannot take full credit for the wonderful work that I do. There are many amazing organizations out there that work to provide Child Life teams around the nation with tools and materials that will help make the hospital experience less scary. Below are some of my personal favorites:
Headbands of Hope

http://www.headbandsofhope.com/

For every headband purchased, 1 is donated to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to St.Baldrick’s. I love headbands of hope and it’s thanks to them that on more than one occasion I’ve been able to bring smiles (and super cute headbands) to dozens of girls battling cancer.

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http://negu.org/joy-jars/

Inspired by Jessie Rees, the organization NEGU (Never Ever Give Up) has made it it’s mission to send a joy jar to children with cancer nation wide. NEGU makes it possible to give a jar full of (age appropriate) FUN to our oncology patients whenever they come to the hospital.

project sunshine logo

http://www.projectsunshine.org/

Project Sunshine is a volunteer based organization that provides crafts and supplies for hospitalized children. There are a variety of things that Project Sunshine provides its hospitals with, my personal favorite for the ER are the craft kits!

http://www.kidflicks.org/

I will be forever grateful for Kid Flicks – we all know how popular movie watching is in the hospital setting as well as how quickly DVD’s are lost, damaged, or stolen. I contacted them when I first began working in my department where there hadn’t been a child life specialist in over a year. Needless to say the DVD collection need some major TLC! After a couple of e-mails, I had a box with 100 DVD’s in my hands.

 Digging Deep - Building resilience in sick kids through journaling

http://diggingdeep.org/

Digging Deep is an incredible resource for school-aged/teen patients facing health-care challenges. It is beautifully written and designed to be appealing for the age group. I am incredibly thankful to be able to provide such an amazing resource for my patients that need it most. (side note: they just released their Spanish version!)