Child Life Program
Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare is home to the region’s only Child Life Program, offering access to certified child life specialists trained to help children and their families cope with the experiences of hospitalization and illness through education, support and play.
Our certified child life specialists are essential members of your child’s healthcare team, specialized in child development and children’s reactions to hospitalization. By easing stress and anxiety, they help kids gain a sense of control in the hospital environment.
Child life specialists are here to help:
- Provide developmentally appropriate explanations for tests and procedures
- Reduce anxiety during procedures through distraction
- Offer activities for play to promote self-expression and coping and help make the hospital feel more friendly and
- Provide procedural support
The Playroom is a procedure-free zone where children and teens can engage in games and art activities. Medical staff is welcome to come play with the children, but this area is exclusively a free, self-expression zone for kids, where nothing medical takes place. Toys and activities are available for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, school-age children and adolescents.
Meet Our Child Life Specialists
Olivia Vincent, CCLS
Olivia always knew she wanted to work with children. Then, when she became involved in the world of child development and learned about Child Life, she found her calling. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Child Life from East Carolina University, then went on to complete a Child Life internship at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. Olivia has led the Tallahassee Memorial Child Life program for three years, implementing virtual reality, creating preparation books for patient transport, introducing new sources of enrichment and championing the program’s expansion.
You’ll find Olivia in our Children’s Center or consulting throughout the Main Hospital.
Mary Mason Beale, MS, CCLS
Mary Mason knew she wanted to be a child life specialist after spending a summer volunteering at Give Kids the World in Orlando, Florida. Mary Mason received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Georgia College and State University, then continued her education at East Carolina University, earning a Master of Science in Human Development and Family Science. She then completed her Child Life internship at Marshfield Clinic in Marshfield, Wisconsin.
Today, you’ll find Mary Mason in our Children's Emergency Center located within the Tallahassee Memorial Emergency Center - Northeast, where she helps patients refocus their attention and use positive coping skills to make emergency procedures less scary.
How to Help Your Child in the Hospital
Parents and caregivers can help make their child’s hospital stay better by offering the right kind of support. Here are some tips from our Child Life team to help you do just that.
We Can’t Do This Without You
- Tell us about your child’s favorite activities, school, family, friends, pets and reactions to being sick.
- Share any concerns you may have about your child’s behavior while in the hospital.Join your child during play activities when you can.
How to Help During Procedures
- Always be honest with your child – don’t say a procedure won’t hurt if it will.
- Tell the staff what helps your child stay relaxed.
- Stay positive! Focus on and talk about positive things with and around your child.
- Praise your child during and after the procedure for doing all the things that are asked of him or her. For example, “You did a great job holding your arm still.”
- Speak in a calm, quiet voice.
- Be in a place where your child can see you during procedures, or rub or hold their hand.
Ways to Give
We’re able to provide enriching toys and experiences for our patients in the Children’s Center through generous donations from members of our community. If you’re interested in becoming a donor, visit TMH Foundation. You can also review an up-to-date list of needs on our wish list.
Your child’s hospitalization can be a stressful time. Learn what to expect.
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We offer the most experienced pediatric staff in the region, including the Big Bend’s only child life specialists.
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