On holidays like Halloween, a day when many kids look forward to activities like trick-or-treating and costume parties, the Child Life Therapy Program works tirelessly to bring holiday magic to the young patients staying at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.
The Child Life Therapy program includes a team of Child Life Specialists who are educated in child development and specially trained to support patients and families through the psychological, social and emotional aspects of hospitalization. The team also works with children to do activities that can lower anxiety about their medical procedure or surgery.
“As Child Life Specialists, we aim to normalize the hospital environment as much as possible,” said Rebekah Coles, manager of OHSU Doernbecher’s Child Life Therapy Program. “These kids are incredible and so resilient, but we have to remember they are going through situations no child should have to go through. It’s very special to be able to provide these experiences, which allow them to step outside of themselves and just be kids for the day.”
This Halloween, Coles and her team have a full lineup of activities, including a show from Oregon magician — and former America’s Got Talent contestant — Scott Anderson, do-it-yourself activity kits, a game of bingo and a special Halloween story time.
Additionally, each year Spirit of Children generously donates costumes for kids and their families — from video game characters to cats and dinosaurs.
To donate to the Child Life Therapy Program, visit the OHSU Foundation.
Staff from all areas of the hospital — including clinicians and volunteers — help put on “reverse” trick-or-treating, where staff visit each child’s hospital room to hand out candy. This format ensures every child can participate in the fun, including those who are unable move around or leave their hospital bed.
“When kids are here during a time when they would normally be celebrating a holiday, we try to bring that activity to them in the hospital to support coping,” Coles said. “We want to create some fun and joy.”