Bringing Play to Chronically Ill Children During a Pandemic

In early March, we were clearly not preprepared for the sideswipe that COVID-19 brought. The unexpected virus created havoc in our communities, hospitals, and homes. As a child life specialist working in private practice, I had to halt my in-person sessions and pivot to a telehealth platform. Then quickly figure out how to create an interactive and therapeutic virtual environment that still followed the highest standards of safety and privacy.

Child life specialists working in hospitals also had similar challenges. Playrooms were closed, strict restrictions on visitations were in place, and patients were isolated in their rooms. It was awful.

Project Sunshine is a nonprofit based out of New York City.  Their mission is to “harness the power of play to support the psychosocial and developmental needs of children and their families as they face medical challenges.” They quickly saw the negative impact that COVID-19 was having on our most vulnerable and decided to pivot their efforts to better support them.

They licensed a healthcare HIPAA compliant Zoom account and allowed many child life programs to use. They also created a TelePlay program for interactive group sessions that are FREE and available to children and teens.

I have had the opportunity to use both. The families I work with were thrilled to continue child life services during our shelter in place orders; creating, expressing, and staying connected during these challenging times.

Learn more about Project Sunshine’s TelePlay program in the guest post below.

Know a child who is hospitalized, or dealing with a medical challenge at home?  In the current environment of the pandemic, it can be overwhelming for children and their families, given the additional hurdles of isolation and social distancing. Dealing with a medical challenge makes things even more difficult. For over 20 years, Project Sunshine has brought play programming to pediatric patients in over 400 medical facilities across the United States.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is one of the most effective methods of reducing stress in kids, allowing their bodies to heal. To continue to support children and families in innovative ways, Project Sunshine has developed a new virtual, safe TelePlay program that provides the healing power of play. Children can choose from a variety of live, interactive games, and activities facilitated by Project Sunshine’s highly trained and vetted volunteers. Games are created for children between the ages of 5-12 and 12-18. Join us for a wide variety of games, from Disney and animal trivia to Scattergories, hidden image, fishbowl, and more!

If you know of any child facing medical challenges in your community that would benefit from TelePlay, they are welcome to sign up for our programs – all they need is a device (a laptop, smartphone, or tablet). A full schedule of activities can be seen here. Patients can join from home and their siblings and caregivers are always welcome. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, all of Project Sunshine’s programs are free for patients.

For additional information please visit our website.

You can sign up for a TelePlay Session by going to the following link: bit.ly/TelePlaySessionSignUp. Or you can download our TelePlay Postcard

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Project Sunshine’s Holiday Toy Drive

When We Stayed Home: Spotlight and Giveaway

The pandemic is confusing for young children. I was thrilled to see a newly published children’s book that helps families cope with the unprecedented time of loss, frustration, and hope. Learn more about this wonderful book and be sure to enter the giveaway.

Guest Blogger, Tara Fass, and Judith Proffer.

When Covid-19 traveled the globe, we were prompted to stay home, wash our hands frequently, socially distance, and wear masks to remain safe and help the helpers. For children who don’t yet grasp the concept of time and haven’t weathered enough life to understand the art of endurance, it’s been a particularly complicated and sometimes trying time.

When We Stayed Home looks at one young boy’s pandemic journey and through colorful illustrations and heartfelt prose we see how he has used his trusty imagination and childlike creativity to navigate the trials of staying home day after day, becoming a super-helper in the process while missing family, friends, school and the “normal” life he once knew. From decorating adorable toilet paper-shaped sugar cookies, building forts, painting, and doing puzzles to frequent screen dates and dance parties with family and friends, young children will relate to his joys and sadnesses and how they too found connection and even serene moments of happiness while isolating. The book will comfort, entertain, and stir conversation about feelings and experiences the youngest stay-at-homers have experienced during these improbable times.

Get your copy today on Amazon
Author Bio

Written by Tara Fass, LMFT, and Judith A. Proffer, the book was inspired by Proffer’s five-year-old nephew, who continued to find big moments of mirth in-home, nature, adventures, and activities while at times tearfully longing for the virus to go far, far away. Licensed Family and Marriage Therapist Fass has worked with families during the pandemic to navigate its bumpy road with tools, optimism, and hope.

We will be giving away a copy of When We Stayed Home to one lucky winner.

Choose one or more ways to enter:

  1. Sign up for email notifications at ChildLifeMommy.com and leave a comment below.
  2. Facebook: Follow Child Life Mommy and tag a friend.
  3. Instagram: Follow @ChildLifeMommy and @WhenWeStayedHomeBook, tag two friends in the post.
  4. Twitter: Follow, Like, and RT the post to @ChildLifeMommy.

Good luck, the winner will be chosen by 9/27/20.

Support for Families Going Through Divorce During a Pandemic

Guest Blogger, Brooke Chaplan

The current COVID-19 pandemic has affected many aspects of daily living around the world. In the U.S., families are dealing with conflict and tensions as they struggle to adjust to the new normal impacting jobs, healthcare, and education. For many couples, deep-rooted issues are surfacing, causing them to reevaluate their relationship. Some are choosing to divorce, and their families need professional support during this difficult time. Here are some options that could help.

Legal Assistance

Couples who are ready to end their marriage will need to deal with several issues, including their home, children, income, bills, and possessions among other things. Many spouses need the objective guidance of a family law attorney to help them sort out their differences and find a reasonable resolution. A legal separation lawyer can provide objective guidelines for dividing the household and dissolving marital bonds while respecting the needs of both spouses.

Family Counseling

Couples and their children, if any, may benefit from participating in family counseling either individually or as a group. This can help each member come to terms with the divorce and the beginning of a new life that will change relationships and possibly locations. A family counselor can work with each person and the family as a whole to heal emotional wounds and support new life goals and directions. Concerns about family pets, school, community activities, and other questions can be addressed with the assistance of a licensed counselor.

Personal Therapy

If one or more members of the family are dealing with issues like substance abuse, financial insolvency, or problem behavior, individual therapy may be helpful in supporting that person in coming to terms with aspects of his or her actions or interactions that will facilitate recovery and improvement. While the divorce will likely proceed, family members’ problems can be addressed for a healthier and successful future.

Spiritual Support

Membership in a church, synagogue, mosque, or another congregation of religious worship can be very comforting during times of extreme change and potential loss. Family members who do not attend worship services may want to visit a local congregation to explore spiritual beliefs that can help to support them in going through a relationship breakup and family reorganization. Some people prefer yoga or meditation, while others find peace and solace in nature.

These professional organizations can become pillars of support during a family breakup. While divorce is never easy, it may become more bearable with the help of entities like the above.

Author Bio

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan

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