Do you currently work in Child Life? If so, tell us about your current position. If not, tell us about your Child Life history.
- In my current role, I am the Children’s Group Coordinator at The Elizabeth Hospice. Within this role, I am able to use my transferable child life skills to provide bereavement support to children, teens and families. In this capacity, I am responsible for running two of our agency’s Children’s Bereavement Centers, coordinate and facilitate grief support groups at our partnering school sites and lead our grief camp, Camp Spero. Our programming serves children ages 3-17 years who have had a death of any kind, encompassing losses from parents to siblings. Our center houses multiple themed rooms for children and teens to uniquely express themselves: a talking room for grief-related activities, a volcano room to release big energy emotions, a game room for connection, a creative room for art-based expression and a CCLS’ dream in a mock hospital room for medical play. I am honored to supervise child life students and volunteers alike.
- Previous to this role, I served as a CCLS at Rady Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. After the time in a hospital setting, my passion for grief and loss grew to an insatiable amount and became the focus of my professional career.
How long have you been connected with Child Life Disaster Relief and in what capacity (either directly or through our partnerships – Children’s Disaster Services, Camp Noah, etc.)? Briefly describe some of those experiences.
- I connected with CLDR back in 2016 when stumbling on their social media. This prompted my draw to their programming. After the initial training with their partner, Children’s Disaster Services, in 2017, I was able to serve on deployment for the Las Vegas shooting in October 2017. Proceeding this deployment, I was invited and able to complete the CDS Critical Response training.
What made you interested in working with children after disasters?
- Grief of any kind has become a passion of mine, whether primary loss of a person or secondary losses from a disaster. To hold space for families facing this type of crisis is an area I have wanted to expand my skills. Learning to provide support with potentially limited resources, unique spaces and with a limited timeline. The magic comes from the children we interact with, whom despite these circumstances find opportunities to show resiliency.
What is your favorite memory from being involved?
- Serving at the Las Vegas deployment was immeasurable. To work with a highly compassionate, giving and gifted team added to the incredible experience. One of my favorite memories was working with a young boy who’s mother was shot while working at the event. We used the universal language of play in ways that he directed and were of comfort for his expression. This included drawing images of what he assumed occurred that night; a monster who inflicted blood shed on a community. He played with police cars, fire trucks and families to process the event. I was just in awe of how this space could allow safety for a child to express his perception of the event.
What advice would you give to others who are thinking of working with children impacted by disasters?
- Be present. The magic unfolds when all that surrounds you becomes quiet and you are able to be a companion to that child.