Children who are in the hospital or having medical treatment are like any other children. They still need to play, connect with friends and family, learn, and be comforted. Our certified child life specialists understand that. We meet children on their level, speak their language, and figure out what they need to cope with the challenges of being sick or needing medical care.
Donate to Sala Institute
Your gift supports programs that help improve the health and wellbeing of children and families.
Play is one way child life specialists help your child, but play is just the beginning. We also encourage activities that allow children to express themselves and better understand their illness or treatment. These approaches facilitate your child’s positive experiences, build confidence, and ease anxiety. Our child life services are provided by Sala Institute for Child and Family Centered Care.
Medical treatment can be intimidating for anyone of any age. Because treatment and procedures such as blood draws or surgery can be particularly overwhelming, child life specialists use a variety of tools and techniques to support children before, during, and after a procedure.
Here are some of the services we offer you and your family:
We talk with parents and children to learn how much children understand about the hospital, why they are there, and how well they are adjusting to this unfamiliar environment.
We explain what is happening, using language and terms children can understand.
We help your child learn new ways to manage fear, so he or she feels less overwhelmed.
We use medical play, such as a doll-sized MRI machine, to help your child understand what he or she might see, hear, feel, smell, or taste during a procedure.
We help your child find ways to relax and feel more comfortable through play and other fun activities.
Our child life specialists are available to help brothers and sisters who might be worried or have questions when they visit a sibling in the hospital.
We offer training for students enrolled in clinical degree programs in child life, music therapy, art therapy, and therapeutic recreation.
These additional resources are offered to help your child cope with the hospital experience.
At Skyline Studio, our broadcast studio located at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital—34th Street, children and teens can create their own multimedia projects, such as music videos, talk shows, or puppet shows. These and other original programs can then be viewed from MyWall, a 75-inch electronic display screen included in all of our hospital rooms. This technology allows children who are not able to leave their rooms for medical reasons to still participate in group activities.
Our certified therapeutic recreation specialists use a variety of games and activities to help your child rehabilitate from an illness or injury or adjust to life with different abilities. We help children learn new skills that make the transition back to home or school easier. This includes finding ways they can continue to participate in the activities they love, such as playing sports, even if their physical abilities have changed.
During horticultural therapy, children participate in gardening activities that can reduce stress and help them improve fine-motor coordination, gain a sense of accomplishment, and socialize with others.
Therapy dogs are some of our most popular volunteers. These furry friends help reduce stress and bring a feeling of home into the hospital.
Doing schoolwork can help the hospital experience seem a little more normal for school-aged children and teens, while easing concerns they may have of keeping up with their classmates. Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital partners with the New York City Department of Education to bring tutoring and educational services into the hospital.
To learn more, please contact the Therapeutic Recreation, Child Life, and Creative Arts Therapies Department.