Hi! My name is Elise Hebel and I’m a certified child life specialist (CCLS) heading to Laos to spend June, July, and August working at Lao Friends Hospital for Children.
What’s a child life specialist?
A child life specialist is an expert in child development and psychosocial care who works with children and families to reduce the effects of stress and trauma. You might encounter us in the pediatric hospital setting, using play to help children and families to understand treatments and diagnoses and to normalize the hospital setting, but we work in any setting with any child and family experiencing adversity.
Why is that important?
Stress and trauma can have devastatingly negative effects on children’s growth and development. For more information, see this article on toxic stress from Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child available here: https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/toxic-stress/
Does child life make a difference?
Yes! Child life support has been shown to reduce children’s and families’ anxiety and distress during stressful experiences such as medical procedures, to increase coping capacities and comprehension, to decrease negative post-procedural and post-discharge behaviors, to reduce pain perception through nonpharmacological pain management techniques, and to assist with finding closure, building legacy, and feeling supported during critical care and at the end of life. For more information, please see the American Academy of Pediatrics’ statement on child life care available here: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/133/5/e1471.full
Why Lao Friends Hospital for Children (LFHC)?
LFHC provides free medical care to children in northern Laos and offers health education to staff, children, and families. What sets LFHC apart is its goal. Unlike many health missions in which a group of well-meaning health practitioners travel to areas without healthcare infrastructure, work for a period of time, and then leave, LFHC is part of Friends Without a Border’s mission to create pediatric healthcare infrastructure. They began in 2015 with the goal that by 2025, LFHC will be a freestanding children’s hospital, completely owned, run, and staffed by the people of Laos. Visiting volunteers from international interdisciplinary medical teams serve to teach the people of Laos and work to develop a sustainable healthcare infrastructure. For more information on LFHC, please see their website, available here: https://fwab.org/laos/
I have just graduated with my Master of Science in child life and am passionate about the application of child life to social justice and advocacy work. I wrote my graduate thesis on child life work with immigrant and refugee children, focusing on providing culturally competent, trauma informed, developmentally appropriate child life care. I also have a background as a teacher and am eager to spread child life knowledge, especially in areas where it can directly benefit and support children and families experiencing stress and trauma. I am creative, flexible, a hard worker, and a fast learner. I believe my skill set and experiences would make me an asset at LFHC.
What do I need from you?
I am a recent graduate. I do not have a steady income and the position at LFHC is voluntary. Monetary donations would serve both to fund my position and to provide toys and supplies for the children at LFHC. Here is a breakdown of the budget:
Expense - Coverage
$800 - Covers my living expenses during my 3 months at LFHC
$1,600 - Covers all expenses of my position at LFHC
$2,500 - Covers all the expenses of my position and provides toys and supplies to children at LFHC
Every small donation contributes to my ability to provide psychosocial care and education to the children, families, and people in Laos. I would be honored to receive your help and support.