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
Saville Sullivan, CCLS
Saville knew she wanted to be a Child Life Specialist after an unexpected hospital stay of her own introduced her to the concept of child life services. Upon her return to wellness, she was inspired to pursue a career in child life to in turn serve others. Saville received her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Environmental Sciences with a major in human development and family studies and a concentration in Child Life Studies from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She completed her Child Life Internship at Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital Navicent Health located in Macon, Georgia.
As a Certified Child Life Specialist, Saville is an expert in child development and kids’ reactions to hospitalization. In her role, she works with children in the Children’s Center and across the organization to reduce stress associated with treatments and procedures by providing developmentally appropriate explanations and medical play opportunities.
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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