Superheroes 4 Kids: Child life specialists help kids cope through play

Child Life Specialist With Child
COURTESY: SACRED HEART CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL

SPOKANE, Wash.– Even in the hospital, there is time to be a kid. Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital Child Life Specialist Mikayla Amsden and Lea Thompson make sure of that.

“Giving them outlets in this time where there is a lot of change is vital,” Amsden said.

The duo and their coworkers set out to make bad days better. They use play therapy to teach sick kids, their siblings and parents about medical procedures and life inside the hospital. They cover the big topics, like surgery. But, Amsden and Thompson also field small questions, even ones about more people having to wear face masks.

“We have a coloring sheet that has animals all wearing masks because that makes it seem more friendly to them,” Amsden said.

Something as simple as that can teach a complex lesson. That’s why these specialists work hard to reach as many kids in the hospital as they can.

“We want to be involved in your child’s care,” Amsden said. “We are ready to come and teach and play and advocate for your kid.”

But they couldn’t do their job without donations to Children’s Miracle Network. The national nonprofit has a partnership with the Spokane hospital, helping provide tools, training, and specialty supplies, like the toys child life specialists use.

“We rely so heavily on outside donors and Children’s Miracle Network is just such a huge blessing for us and our role,” Thompson said.

The donations are especially important now because staff are using more supplies than ever, due to COVID-19 restrictions. Amsden explained that they used to be able to sanitize and reuse some things, but that’s not the case now.

These staff superheroes are adapting to changing situations They know times may be tough, but the kids they care for are tougher.

“Our patients are our superheroes. They battle every single day and they overcome challenges and their strength and determination to get through anything they face is just so humbling,” Thompson said.

This week is Superhero 4 Kids week at 4 News Now. Every day, tune in for stories about the superhero staff working at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital and how you can support their missions. 

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