Child Life can be thought of as the conduit that connects medical care provision with being a child. Health issues and treatments are very “adult” themes. Interrupting someone’s childhood with these subjects is an unfortunate reality for some children and their families. However, for all our pediatric patients and their families, this is their reality. The Child Life Program at Hospital for Special Surgery has a unique mandate to foster and facilitate an environment that is more child/family friendly and less institutional. It is more than décor; it’s about creating an atmosphere that balances medical need with a comforting, supportive setting that children and their families will respond to in a positive manner. Play, the work of childhood, combined with education, are tools utilized to help reduce fear and anxiety for the child and the family. Diminished fear and anxiety are easily correlated to better understanding and compliance with medical treatment as well as patient satisfaction.
The Child Life Program offers a wide range of activities and events for children who are hospitalized, coming for outpatient visits, as well as their families, including:
- One to one bedside activities for hospitalized children conducted by the Child Life Assistant.
- Recreational activities for children (patients, siblings) in the outpatient settings.
- Opportunities to participate in special outings: professional baseball games, circus and theatre performances, unique NYC events.
- Large-scale parties are planned to celebrate Halloween, Christmas, and End of School for inpatient, outpatients, and their families. The focus of the parties is to provide an environment of socialization that is non-threatening and accessible for all participants. Individual celebrations commemorating birthdays or end of treatment, for inpatient children, can also be fashioned.
- SPECIAL KIDS - our own unique newsletter. SPECIAL KIDS, published 4 times/year, is comprised solely of articles, drawings, and poems by pediatric patients (and occasionally, siblings) who receive treatment at Hospital for Special Surgery.
- Wish Granting - when a child or their family indicates a desire for a particular wish, a referral is made to specific organizations for wish fulfillment. Past wishes have been for computer, trips to Disney World, and to meet celebrities.
If you would like to have a child, who is currently an HSS patient, added to our mailing list, please call the Pediatric Special Response line at 212.606.1959. For all questions or inquiries regarding the Child Life Program, please contact Lorraine Montuori, LCSW at 212.606.1031.