Often times, when people face challenging moments in their lives and lean on others for support, they build a unique sense of empathy and resiliency. There is a deeper understanding for others going through a similar challenge and they want to help, by paying it forward.
I am so excited to introduce Hope Has Fun, a program created by an amazing family that are helping to bring smiles, comfort and fun to children and families in the hospital.
Here is Izzy and Laura’s story
We’re coming up on the tenth birthday of our daughter, Isabella Grace. It’s also close to the ten year anniversary of her first hospital stay. At ten days old, she was really sick and spent some time in the hospital. No diagnosis or cause for her illness was found, but since she improved, they sent us home with instructions to come back if she grew sick again. For almost ten years, we’ve “come back” again and again for ER visits, hospital stays and many tests with the hope it will be determined what disease is specifically affecting her young life so much. We have some answers, but for now, the metabolic/genetic diagnosis is still “suspected” and not clearly understood. She lives with daily pain and frustration and we hope science catches up soon with some help and relief for all she experiences.
Still, Izzy hopes. She sings, dances and hates math. She loves to read and write and really, really wants other kids who are in the hospital to have a chance at some fun while they receive medical care. A doctor once told her he wanted her experience there with his team to be the “Disneyland of hospital stays.” When you ask her what she remembers of that inpatient time, she talks about all the fun she had, not the IVs, medicine and feeling terrible.
With Izzy’s many stays in the hospital, she’s had visits from pet therapy programs and others in the hospital who have given her books, toys and stuffed animals. She really wanted to be a part of that kindness and happiness for other kids, to help them have fun in the hospital while they received care. After a lot of brainstorming about ways to help, our organization, Hope Has Fun, was started this past fall!
As I was researching how we could best accomplish what Izzy wanted to do for young patients in the hospital, I kept coming across Child Life program information. In all our years in the hospital, my understanding of the role of Child Life was still extremely limited. As we’ve talked with other families who have pediatric medical experiences inpatient, it seems somewhat common for us to not fully understand or realize the role of Child Life in a pediatric patient’s hospital and medical treatment experience.
So we’re on a mission now, to be Child Life’s biggest cheerleaders, advocates and supporters! We believe it’s just as important to have Child Life support as part of the medical team as it is a medical specialist or pharmacist. The presence or absence of Child Life support can make or break a child’s perspective of their health care and the anxiety that can follow can be incredibly disruptive and unhealthy. The work done by specialists in the Child Life field is invaluable and we want to find ways to highlight and support their roles as an important part of the medical team.
We’re really excited about contributing to the support of what Child Life does because we believe if a child can feel empowered and reflect positively on their hospital care, they will go on to have a much healthier outlook on any future medical care they might need with decreased anxiety and more courage and confidence.
Along with making sure Izzy’s goals of bringing fun to patients in the hospital are met with Hope Has Fun, I really want to bring more community awareness (and fundraising opportunities) to the value and depth of services offered by Child Life programs in the hospital setting.
Hope Has Fun will be collecting donations, a different theme or project each month, to support the work Child Life is doing to make the hospital experience be one that brings confidence, fun and courage to young patients and their families. We have lots of plans in store for partnering with the community, Child Life programs and families to bring hope and fun to the pediatric inpatient experience.