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Child Life Services

When your child is in the hospital, it can be a scary and confusing time. The Child Life and Creative Arts Program at Rush offers children age-appropriate activities and education to help them cope with being hospitalized.

Child life specialists at Rush will also use books, medical equipment, dolls and other kid-friendly teaching tools to help your child prepare for the following:

  • Imaging scans
  • Medical exams
  • Procedures
  • Surgery

What are child life specialists?

Child life specialists are experts in child development. They are trained to help children learn how to effectively cope with their health challenges by using the following techniques:

  • Preparing them for their hospital experience
  • Educating them about the different procedures they are going to have
  • Guiding them through self-expression activities
  • Playing age-appropriate games with them

Why children need child life services

Being in the hospital disrupts children’s normal lives. Hospitalization can cause children to:

  • Become more dependent on their parents
  • Start having lower self-esteem
  • Feel isolated and lonely
  • Get behind in school
  • Miss social and educational opportunities

These issues can all jeopardize a child’s physical, emotional and intellectual growth. Child life services can help prevent these long-lasting developmental problems, while also boosting your child’s spirits in the hospital.

Benefits of child life services

The goal of child life activities is to help kids:

  • Cope with their illness
  • Heal physically and emotionally
  • Express themselves
  • Use their creativity and imagination
  • Socialize with other children
  • Boost their self-esteem
  • Gain independence

Personalized care

Every child deals with hospitalization differently. That’s why the child life specialists at Rush will work with you and your child to create an individualized coping plan. Some plans may include teaching your child how to use:

  • Breathing techniques
  • Imagery
  • Other forms of distraction

The child life team at Rush understand that having a child in the hospital can be difficult for the entire family. Child life specialists also provide information, support and guidance to parents, siblings and other family members.

Getting kids engaged

Your child’s emotional and developmental well-being is the top priority for child life specialists at Rush. They provide the following activities to your child:

  • Art
  • Education
  • Music
  • Therapeutic play
  • Pet therapy
  • Movies
  • Special events
  • Other forms of self-expression

Rush also partners with the following innovative child life providers to offer children a wide range of therapeutic outlets:

  • Snow City Arts: An arts and education program that offers children one-on-one instruction in visual arts, creative writing, music, theater and filmmaking.
  • Open Heart Magic: A program that uses the therapeutic power of magic shows and laughter to help seriously ill children in the hospital.
  • Funny Bones Improv: A comedy program that focuses on the healing power of laughter by putting on improv performances for children in the hospital and their families.

Child life services pre-hospitalization program

Child life specialists at Rush are also available to meet with you and your child before surgery or hospital admission to help you prepare. The pre-hospitalization program includes the following:

  • One-on-one session meeting: A child life specialist will meet with you and your child to help you understand and prepare for a procedure and/or hospitalization.
  • Hospital tour: You and your child will have a chance to see the including the prep and recovery areas, operating rooms and pediatric unit.
  • Preparation and education: Your child life specialist will help you and your child understand the hospital experience by using using books, dolls, pictures and/or medical equipment.

To schedule an appointment with a child life specialist, please call (312) 942-7842.

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