LVHN's Child-Life Specialists Lift Spirits of Kids (and Their Parents) Facing Illness, Disease and Disabilities
With the help of Spirit Halloween's Spirit of Children program.
BY LINDSAY SCHNEIDER
Child-life specialists at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children's Hospital are behind-the-scenes heroes not only for patients but their parents as well. They provide fun distractions for patients during treatments and offer helpful resources for parents learning to cope with their child's diagnosis. But they can't do what they do without help from the community and generous donors like Spirit Halloween and their Spirit of Children initiative.
What is Spirit of Children?
Spirit of Children has been making hospitals less scary for children and their families since 2006 by providing fun and funding to child-life departments within children's hospitals. It started with Halloween parties at 11 hospitals in 2006. Today they have 144 partner hospitals across the United States and Canada.
Throughout the Halloween season, all Spirit Halloween stores conduct in-store fundraising. Since 2007, they have successfully collected over $65 million in cash and merchandise to support the efforts of child-life specialists who provide therapeutic and emotional healing to young patients while doctors and nurses focus on medical treatment.
Here are just three examples of patients who benefit from what the Spirit of Children program brings to Lehigh Valley Reilly Children's Hospital's child-life experience.
Joni was born prematurely and weighed under 3-pounds due to growth restriction. Because of the great care her mom received through LVHN’s Maternal Fetal Medicine Program, and the wonderful clinicians in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children's Hospital, Joni gained weight quickly and is now a happy, healthy 4 year old.
18 months after Joni was discharged from the NICU, she went back to Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital for a small procedure and was able to enjoy toys and games to keep her occupied prior to her surgery, thanks to the Child-Life Fund.
Alex was born with profound hearing loss in both ears. Hearing aids and speech therapy failed to help him communicate effectively, so his parents brought him to Lehigh Valley Reilly Children's Hospital to investigate the possibility of cochlear implants. Alex received cochlear implants in both ears, and at 5 years old, is now speaking in full sentences and was accepted into mainstream Kindergarten.
Surgery can be scary, especially when your five and have difficulty communicating. Alex found a welcome distraction with the toys provided by the Child-Life Fund – before and after surgery, and during recovery.
Abby began having high fevers that would come and go every few weeks. Without a clear diagnosis, she had a bone marrow biopsy that revealed she had B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Abby received aggressive chemotherapy at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children's Hospital’s Children’s Cancer Center and is now nearing the end of her treatment. She loves to take karate lessons and is looking forward to ringing the bell outside the Children’s Cancer Center to mark the end of her cancer.
Abby couldn't get enough of crafts and the iPad during her infusion sessions. She also liked to play with our medical teaching doll and dig through the prize bins.
Costumes aren't just for Halloween, but this coupon is.
It's not too late to get Halloween costumes for the whole family. Whether you are trick or treating or playing dress up year round, Spirit of Halloween has everything you need for children, adults, pets and festive decor. This coupon expires on October 31, 2020, but the fun will last all year long!
Our Child-Life team and the families they support are forever grateful for partnerships like the one Lehigh Valley Reilly Children's Hospital has with Spirit Halloween. For more information on how you can get involved in this special program, please visit give.lvhn.org.