COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The title "Child Life Specialist," might sound broad and vague, but the goal and the purpose of these professionals is highly specific.
March is "Child Life" month, recognizing the work that specialists do in hospitals around the countries to support children and their families during extended stays at the hospital. These professionals work with children and families in hospitals to help them cope with the challenges of hospitalization, illness and disability.
"We provide normalization for them simply sitting in a room and playing Uno or getting on the floor with an infant or child," said Child Life Specialist, Emily Murphy. "And we just kinda play and give them that developmental stimulation they'd get at home but while they're here in the hospital as well."
WIS caught up with several specialists at Palmetto Health Children's Hospital. One was singing and dancing with toddlers, while another was making "slime" with pre-teens on the cancer and blood disorders floor. When we followed Murphy, she was helping get a 15-year-old with an autoimmune deficiency disorder walking through the hallways.
"Fe'Lon is one of my treasured children," Murphy told WIS. "He's been here for somewhere between 60 to 70 days at this point and has been in the intensive care with me upstairs. He recently got moved downstairs to our pediatric floor."
Murphy has watched as Fe'Lon has fought to recover. He used to barely be able to get from the couch to his hospital bed just four feet away. Now, as Murphy helps him wheel his oxygen along with him, he walks the hallways on a hospital scavenger hunt.
"We're there to help you through that process of all of the bad stuff and make it better and make it a place where you can cope when you come here, you're not traumatized," Murphy said. "And next time you come back, if you have to come back, you're like OK, I can do this, I know what to expect... there are people here who can help me."