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Hope and Health

Your source to help with your family's health from WVU Medicine Children's

Hope & Health
Articles and Updates from WVU Medicine Children's

03/4/2024 | Rachel Bishop, Megan Mezzanotte, and Kristen Gleason-Moore

The Power of Play: The View from a Certified Child Life Specialist

What is the role of a certified Child Life Specialist?

A Child Life Specialist is a professional magician and licensed bubble blower.

Just kidding!

The Child Life Specialists at WVU Medicine Children’s are highly trained professionals who support children – ranging in age from infants to adolescents – in coping with the stress and uncertainty of illness, diagnosis, injury, and their overall hospitalization.

Child Life Specialists provide procedural preparation, new diagnosis education, and activities that promote self-expression to further enhance the child’s overall wellbeing.

Why is play important?

Play is a child’s #1 job and is essential for their continual growth and development. It creates a non-threatening environment enhancing the overall positivity of the patient’s hospitalization.

Child Life incorporates play to communicate with patients and teach them about their hospitalization while meeting their interests and needs. Play empowers patients to successfully navigate their healthcare experience.

As Fred Rogers (AKA Mr. Rogers) said, “It’s the things we play with and the people who help us play that make a great difference in our lives.”

Child Life is more than just play!

Although it’s fun to picture us as professional magicians or licensed bubble blowers, there is a powerful purpose behind the various types of play.

Normative Play

Does your child like crafts, cars, or “Bluey?”

Our specialists, along with the Child Life Assistants, work to create an environment that meets your child’s interest.

Normative play promotes a safe and child-friendly environment. We encourage and value the importance of letting kids be kids, even while in the hospital.

Medical Play

Is your child afraid of going to the doctor?

Child Life Specialists help minimize the fear of their healthcare experiences by providing opportunities for your child to familiarize themselves with the healthcare environment and medical materials. This allows your child the opportunity to build confidence and a better understanding of their illness, diagnosis, and treatment plan.

Therapeutic Play

Who doesn’t love a friendly competitive game like Candy Land?

Have you ever thought of using a game to explore feelings and thoughts based off the cards drawn throughout play?

Therapeutic play is a way for a Child Life Specialist to learn more about your child while creating a plan to help them further cope and process their feelings and emotions.

If you’d like to learn more about the Child Life Program at WVU Medicine Children’s, visit

About the Author

Rachel Bishop, MA, CCLS, is a Certified Child Life Specialist who workes in the pediatric accute unit at WVU Medicine Children’s. She holds an undergraduate degree in exercise science from High Point University and a masters degree in Child Life from the Uniiversity of Akron.

Megan Mezzanotte, CCLS, is a Certified Child Life Specialist and supervisor of Child Life at WVU Medicine Children’s. Megan spent her entire Child Life career at WVU Medicine Children’s supporting patients, families, and now her team of specialists and child life assistants. She graduated from West Virginia University an stayed in her home state to make a difference in the lives of others.

Kristin Gleason-Moore, CCLS, has been a Child Life Specialist for six years. She works in the surgery unit preparing children and families for surgery and supporting them during their time at WVU Medicine Children’s.

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