The Compass Summer 2020 | Page 6

PHILANTHROPY IN ACTION Child Life program expanded with gift from Moody Foundation It is a difficult experience for anyone to see a loved one suffering a trauma or battling a grave illness. For children, the uncertainty and fear they experience can be terrifying. aylor Scott & White Health believes that treating the patient means treating the whole family. For children who are sick or injured, the Child Life team at Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s Medical Center helps the patient as well as his or her parents and siblings deal with the stress and anxiety that often accompany health care experiences. Through play activities and other strategies, the Child Life team provides emotional support and helps normalize the hospital experience. It can be equally devastating for a child who is watching a parent face lifealtering or life-ending illnesses or trauma. Thanks to a generous grant from the Moody Foundation, children whose lives have been impacted by the health or injury of a loved one will also receive this support through the Palliative Care Child Life program. “We have the unique opportunity to take the long view in deciding how our foundation can best invest in meaningful projects that positively impact the lives of Texans for years or decades,” says Frances Moody-Dahlberg, executive director and chairman of the Moody Foundation. “Bringing comfort to our children in their time of uncertainty allows us to be of service in a way that Cinda McDonald, child life specialist, works with 10-year-old Angel following his mother’s breast cancer diagnosis. is both gratifying and humbling. We are pleased to come together with Baylor Scott & White Health on this lifechanging initiative.” Initially developed at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas in 2011, the Palliative Care Child Life program has since grown to serve additional Baylor Scott & White hospitals. With the help of this grant, the program will be established or expanded in locations in North Texas, including in Fort Worth, Irving, and Grapevine; and in Central Texas, including Waco and Temple. Certified child life specialists help families in crisis across multiple hospital units including trauma, emergency, intensive care, oncology, cardiac care, transplant, women’s and children’s services, and rehabilitation. Acting as advocates, educators, liaisons, and encouragers, child life specialists support children and families with their knowledge and experience using age-appropriate therapeutic interventions. In doing so, they help reduce the stress and anxiety that many children can experience in acute healthcare situations. “When there is a serious life-limiting illness or injury, the children are often the ones who need the most information and emotional support,” says Cinda McDonald, manager of Palliative Care Child Life Services. “We work with adults to educate and empower them in knowing how to support their children through the health crisis, giving adults the confidence to discuss this difficult information with their kids.” “For many children, a lack of understanding can sometimes lead to fears or misperceptions. For example, that they ‘caused’ a serious illness because they didn’t clean their room as told or they were at risk for ‘catching’ their mother’s breast cancer if they gave her a hug. It’s both heartbreaking and real,” Ms. McDonald says. “Our goal is to work with children and their families, providing support by being that unbiased person outside of their family; that ‘safe space’ where children can have open and honest conversations on topics that parents have given us permission to talk about. Helping children cope with real-life circumstances is the goal of providing child life services and support in this innovative way,” Ms. McDonald explains. 6 THE COMPASS / BAYLOR SCOTT & WHITE CENTRAL TEXAS FOUNDATION NEWS / SUMMER 2020