Child Life brings hope to kids at HSC Children’s Hospital

Being a kid in hospital can be tough, but a special team called Child Life helps kids at HSC Children’s Hospital cope.

“The hospital is a place where hope and healing happens,” says Manuela Federau, a Child Life assistant at HSC Children’s for over 22 years.

March is Child Life month and Children’s Hospital Foundation is celebrating the many ways the Child Life team at HSC Children’s helps kids and families all year long through purposeful and fun opportunities for distraction and play.

Child Life team members are experts in childhood development and programming includes music therapy, the library program, Children’s Hospital Television (CHTV), special holiday celebrations and of course, play.

As a Child Life assistant, Manuela works with children staying in the hospital, especially ones that are there for long periods of time, are in isolation or have very little caregiver presence.

“I spend the one-on-one time playing with them, reading with them, doing rhymes and songs and hopefully bringing some distraction and helping them cope with the hospital stay,” says Manuela. 

The goals of therapeutic play include having fun, providing a safe environment for kids, building trust, giving kids an opportunity to express themselves, and bringing comfort and nurturing. Child Life staff customize the play experience for each individual child, bringing comfort items to their rooms or supporting them during a visit to the HSC Children’s playroom.

“Play is what children do. In the hospital, it’s so important to be able to provide that as well,” says Manuela.

Manuela says she’s experienced many meaningful moments in her time as a Child Life assistant, where play has helped children on their road to recovery including one child who went from not moving at all on their first visit with Manuela, to walking around, grabbing toys, and having a blast a few weeks later.

“Those are the stories that will forever stay with me,” says Manuela. “What inspires me, are the children. They are amazing, so resilient, they go through so much and yet they’re able to overcome so many obstacles.”

Manuela says she’s proud to be part of the Child Life team at HSC Children’s.

“I believe in healing and it comes in many different ways. One of them through medicine but I believe what we as Child Life bring is definitely a big part of healing as well.”

Child Life programming, like specialized comfort items and toys, is 100% funded by generous donors. To make a gift to help kids in hospital cope, click here.

Stay in touch!

Sign up for e-news to get updates on the latest events, news, and stories.

sign up for the newsletter