Upstate News

March 5, 2009
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

University Hospital celebrates Child Life Month with special activities, programs, zoo visit

SYRACUSE, N.Y.— University Hospital will celebrate National Child Life Month in March with a series of programs and activities, including a free community training session to address the challenges children with autism, severe developmental delay and mental retardation face during medical treatment. The monthlong honors and acknowledges the work of University Hospital’s eight-member team of certified child life specialists.

The training session—”Special Needs Advocacy Partners” (SNAP)— will be presented by certified Child Life Specialist Gail Klaymann, M.SeD., from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where the SNAP program was developed. University Hospital is only the second hospital in the United States to have received this specialized training. Sponsored by University Hospital’s Child Life Program and the Department of Pediatrics, the SNAP program will be held March 24, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Crouse Marley Education Center, 765 Irving Ave., Syracuse. To register, call 464-1976.

University Hospital’s pediatric patients, their families and the staff from the Department of Pediatrics will also add to Child Life Month festivities by wearing special clothing throughout the month, including a favorite team apparel, clothing featuring a favorite cartoon character, children’s hospital shirt, and Hawaiian-themed clothes. They also have planned related activities for each pediatric unit throughout the week, including a “Zoo To You” program.

The community also is invited to learn more about the services offered by University Hospital’s Child Life Program by visiting the Child Life Information Table March 12 and 19, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in University Hospital’s second floor lobby.

Child life specialists are child development experts who promote effective coping through play, preparation, education, and self-expression activities for children and their family members who face challenging experiences, particularly those related to healthcare and hospitalization. They play a vital role in educating caregivers, administrators and the general public about the needs of children under stress.

Through patient education, University Hospital’s child life specialists make a hospital stay or doctor’s visit a positive experience for the child and their family.

“When the child and the family is prepared and understands what to expect during a visit or hospitalization, they are less apt to be anxious about the experience,” said Margaret Nellis, manager of University Hospital’s Child Life program.

In addition to Nellis, University Hospital’s child life specialists are Kara Judd-Litera, Sue Karl, Marsha Kernan, Regina Lozito, Colleen Baish, Janice Whitcombe and Brittany Metcalf.

Their day-to-day responsibilities include coordinating pre-admission tours, offering support and distraction during medical procedures, playroom activities and other special events, serving as advocates on behalf of families and children of all ages and developing and implementing staff education initiatives.

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