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, injury, disability, and hospitalization. The program goals are to provide medical education, preparation, and support, to aid in reducing fear and anxiety in hospitalized children and families. The following services address programmatic goals:
Child Life services include:
- Bedside activities to provide diversion and promote normalization
Pre-and post-procedural education
- Explanations of medical procedures in terms children can understand
- Opportunity to become familiar with real and pretend play medical equipment in a safe, non-threatening way
- Helps to stimulate patients and promotes growth and development
The Activity Center is for patients and families to visit when they would like a break from their hospital room. The Activity Center is open Monday through Friday. Contact the activity assistant at 304-554-8535, for further questions and to schedule a play time.
The Child Life Program provides support for patients and families in a variety of ways:
Little Wishes™ – This program grants the immediate and ongoing wishes of chronically and critically ill, hospitalized children to ease their discomfort, bring them joy, and brighten long hospital stays.
Teddy bear clinic – The teddy bear clinic is a free event for all children to attend. Kids get to be the doctor and learn about different medical procedures. Every child who attends receives a free teddy bear, while supplies last.
Beads of Courage – This free program helps children cope with serious illness by recording and telling their personal story of survival and courage, using beads to show bravery and accomplishment. We currently have Beads of Courage programs for hematology/oncology patients, patients with chronic illnesses, and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit patients.
NICU sibling visit – Prior to a sibling visiting the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), a Child Life specialist prepares them for what to expect and assesses appropriate coping and comprehension skills.
Bereavement – The Child Life staff is committed to supporting families in their time of grief. We do this by offering a compassionate presence, support regarding how to relay information to other family members, and memory-making and legacy building projects to honor your child’s life.
Organizations or groups are welcome to arrange an activity for patients at WVU Medicine Children’s. The Child Life staff will coordinate a time for you to meet with the kids in the Activity Center or Hostetler Family Resource Center.
Visitors must be at least 16 years old. All visitors must sign a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) form. Visitors under the age of 18 must have a parent/guardian signature.
The Child Life Program is committed to the development and growth of the Child Life profession. We offer students interested in this field an extensive practicum experience. Students are given opportunities to observe and become familiar with the field of Child Life and the hospital setting.
Students have the opportunity to become familiar with:
- Medical play
- Pre-operative and pre-procedural preparation
- Coping facilitation
- Planning and supervising developmentally appropriate activities
- Working with individuals and groups
We accept one student per semester (fall, winter). We do not currently offer a Child Life internship.
To learn more about Child Life, please visit the Association for Child Life Professionals at www.childlife.org.
WVU Medicine Children’s volunteers are a critical part of our team. They work side by side with our Child Life assistants in the Activity Center and the patients’ bedsides. They provide a much-needed distraction, play opportunities for patients, and breaks for parents.
All volunteers are processed through Volunteer Services. Visit the Volunteer Opportunities webpage to learn more.
Material Donations: All material donations made to WVU Medicine Children’s are handled by the Child Life Program. All material donations must be new items. Call Child Life to discuss any donation of homemade items, such as blankets and hats.
Financial Donations: Financial gifts to the Child Life Program can be made online or by mail.