Child Life Program

Nemours Children's Hospital, Lake Nona

The Child Life Department at Nemours Children’s Hospital helps children and families cope with medical treatment, diagnosis, and hospitalization through play, preparation, education, and self-expression.

How to Request a Child Life Visit

Access our page on the GetWellNetwork using the interactive television in your room. If you need immediate assistance, just ask your nurse to contact us.

What We Do

Child Life specialists are child development experts who help ensure that life remains as normal as possible for children in health care settings and other challenging environments. We promote effective coping through play, self-expressive activities, and age-appropriate medical preparation and education. Our areas of focus include:

Play & Self-Expressive Activities

A child’s job is to play. We encourage children to play, whether at bedside or in our play and teen spaces within the hospital. We use art, music and creative therapies to promote your child’s development.


Medical Play

Our Child Life specialists use real and pretend medical equipment to give your child a chance to play through medical experiences by sharing feelings, concerns and fears.


Preparation

It’s natural for a child to be anxious about a hospital or clinic visit, but it helps to know what to expect. We help explain procedures and surgery using your child’s five senses and medical materials.


Coping and Distraction

During medical procedures, Child Life specialists offer a variety of tools to re-direct your child’s attention to decrease anxiety and increase cooperation. Techniques may include relaxation, deep breathing and guided imagery. We also help your child — and family — draw on your own coping strengths.


Emotional Support

Our Child Life specialists provide psychosocial support to help your child cope with health care experiences and work through feelings such as fear, anger, sadness or guilt.


Programming

Enjoyment — like a good laugh — is an important part of healing. We organize a variety of activities and events for kids of all ages, including visits from special guests, premier movie showings, and live performances on our center stage.


Bereavement

Child Life specialists offer comfort, support and memorial activities for families when needed.

Our Child Life specialists are trained to understand the different ways children deal with stress, fear, confusion, anger, guilt and sadness. We will develop coping strategies specific to your child’s individual needs, and will also provide parents, siblings and other family members with information, support and guidance when necessary.

Spaces for Children & Teens

Kids of all ages want to explore, play, and laugh, no matter where they are — even in the hospital. Often a child’s choices are limited in the hospital setting, but not at Nemours.

As a hospital built by families, for families, Nemours Children's Hospital is a bright, inviting place where cozy reading nooks are carved into walls, interactive games provide fun and learning experiences, and special spaces and activities — especially designed for kids — enhance creative play and expression.

Hospital Play Spaces

Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, our spaces are fun places made for patients and families to escape the stressors of the hospital. These spaces are safe zones where kids can find normal play activities away from medical procedures, equipment and exams.

You can find a place space here:
  • Emergency Department Play Space: for children of all ages visiting the emergency department on the ground floor
  • Third Floor Teen Space: for adolescents ages 12 years and older
  • Fourth Floor Play Space: for children of all ages, geared toward 12 years and younger

Please note that patients, siblings and visitors under 12 must be accompanied by an adult while they play.

Be Part of Our Child Life Program

Nemours Children’s Hospital welcomes visitors and volunteers from our community to participate in our Child Life activities.

Community Engagement Program

We’re always looking for groups and individuals to apply for our Community Engagement Program, including college and high school groups, community organizations, youth groups, performers, athletes and others.

 
Learn more about our Community Engagement Program

If you’d like to visit, please complete an online or paper application.

Before you apply, consider the following guidelines:
  • all visitors must be free of infection
  • we can accommodate groups of up to 10 people
  • all visitors must be 16 years or older
  • our dress code prohibits shorts, tank tops, mini-skirts, or open-toed shoes
  • visitors must come with a planned activity and with all
    necessary supplies

Download a Complete List of Guidelines & Instructions »


Volunteer Opportunties

Volunteers help the Child Life Program in so many ways.
Find Out How to Become a Hospital Volunteer »


Make a Gift or Donation

We’re thankful for our thoughtful and generous community for providing us with a variety of toys, crafts, and activities for kids of all ages. We truly appreciate donations of new, unused toys and craft supplies, gently used books, and (age-appropriate) video games for popular gaming consoles.

The Child Life Team

A Child Life specialist is a member of the health care team who is a graduate of a bachelor’s or master’s program in education, human growth and development, psychology, or counseling, and certified through the Child Life Council. We’re equipped to handle a child’s unique way of dealing with a traumatic experience like an illness or injury — and we can help you feel confident doing the same with your child.

Meet the Team

Samantha Garrett, MS, CCLS

Senior Child Life Specialist
Emergency Department
samantha.garrett@nemours.org

Melody Wallace, BS, CCLS

Child Life Specialist
General Pediatrics Unit
melody.wallace@nemours.org

Christina Anderson, BS, CCLS

Child Life Specialist
Pediatric Intensive Care and Neonatal Intensive Care Units
christina.anderson@nemours.org

Shalese Harkless, MS, CCLS

Child Life Specialist
General Pediatrics Unit
shalese.harkless@nemours.org

Contact Us

Yesenia Principe

Executive Assistant, Patient & Family-Centered Care
(407) 650-7493
yesenia.principe@nemours.org

Child Life Program

Nemours Children’s Hospital
13535 Nemours Parkway
Orlando, FL 32827


Hours

Inpatient Staff: Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Emergency Department: Sunday–Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.