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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.

Don’t forget the teens

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During my practicum I always struggled when interacting with teens. Being that I was 21 years old when I was doing my practicum, it seemed awkward for me to provide child life services to someone who was so close in age. During my internship I went out of my comfort zone and really made an effort to connect with my adolescent population. Thus began my new found love for providing child life services to teens (as much as I would for any other age.) Now that I’m working as a child life specialist, I’m always looking for ways to keep our teen population included when it comes to giveaways/things to do while in the ER because while yes, teens do love being on their phones, phones run out of battery and there is only so many times you can refresh your twitter newsfeed before you go crazy. Here’s a list of what I have (so far):

  • A variety of “teen movies” for them to choose from to watch in their rooms
  • Age appropriate board games (apples to apples, connect 4, uno, regular cards, etc)
  • An x-box on wheels with age appropriate games (need for speed, nba 2k13, etc)
  • And, my latest option to hand out: Mandala art!

Mandala art is supposed to be therapeutic to color if you’re coloring from the inside out {https://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/mandala-art-drawing-your-way-wholeness} . I hand out a few sheets and some coloring pencils to my teens who are interested and it’s been a hit! I’m so glad that I’m able to provide my teen population with things that they enjoy & are age appropriate.

Any ideas on how to decorate a teenagers hospital bedroom besides sheets and pillows? She’ll be in for a month!

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Posters! The Beatles? Lebron James? Adele? The Twilight Saga?  – whatever your teen is motivated by & loves it would be an awesome idea to have something up that can provide a sense of love and comfort in their hospital room. Allow your teen to personalize their room as much as possible with permission granted from hospital staff.

Calendar. In this particular case the teen will be in the hospital for about a month so it would be an awesome idea to have a calendar up for her to be able to keep track of doctor visits, fun activities within the hospital, and to chart her progress.

A white board (if one not in room already) or a big poster. For family and friends to leave inspiring messages on when they pass by for a visit. Contact with peers is extremely important for teens and so being able to read messages from their friends after they’ve left could be very comforting for a teen in the hospital.

Bedding/Pillows/Rugs. If allowed by your nurses and doctors, bringing in these items from home will make their room more customized to their liking. Also, the smell of home will linger around them for a while making the first couple of nights in the hospital a little more comforting.

Photo frames with photos of friends. Again, maintaining peer relationships is crucial for teens and so keeping framed photos of them around is a nice touch for personalizing their room.

New things waiting for her at the hospital. Take into consideration new things that she may be encountering at the hospital. For example, perhaps an IV pole – she could take something from home to hang on it & make it her own. Maybe she would be interested in picking out her own decal for her IV bags – check out  www.littlelovemedical.com


18 pt
18 pt


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