Child Life Program in Wilmington

Contact Us
Child Life, Creative Arts Therapy and School Programs

Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware 1600 Rockland Road, Wilmington, DE 19803

The Department of Child Life, Creative Arts Therapy & School Programs at Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware helps patients and their families cope with medical experiences. Our staff promotes the use of play, preparation, education and self-expression activities as a way to normalize the hospital. Our team of certified Child Life specialists are skilled at supporting the child and their family during a stressful medical event. We strive to empower children and families, while partnering with them to meet their individual needs.

Call to request a visit from a Child Life specialist or, if you need immediate assistance, ask your nurse or another team member to contact us.


Our Leadership Team

Hilary Bruno, MS, CTRS, CCLS

Director, Child Life, Creative Arts Therapy and School Programs

Hilary earned her Bachelor of Science from University of Delaware and her Master of Science from Springfield College. Hilary has worked in one of the region’s health care systems as a clinician and as a Child Life leader. Hilary joined Nemours in May 2023.

Melissa Nicely, MS, CCLS

Manager, Department of Child Life, Creative Arts Therapy & School Programs

Melissa earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Fresno State in California, and her Master of Arts in Child Life from University of La Verne, in California. Melissa has worked in children’s hospitals in California, and has experience as a nonprofit professional at the Association for Child Life Professionals. Melissa joined Nemours as a child life specialist in 2013, and became a manager in 2015

Nicole Gandolfo, MA, CCLS

Manager, Department of Child Life, Creative Arts Therapy & School Programs

Nicole earned her Bachelor of Arts from Boston University and Master of Arts in Child Development from Tufts University, Eliot-Pearson School of Child Development. Nicole has experience working as a child life specialist and student program coordinator in multiple child life programs across the United States. She has enjoyed professional volunteer involvement with the Association of Child Life Professionals, including serving as a past committee chair. Nicole joined Nemours as a manager in child life in November 2020.

Child Life Specialists

Joelle Arrante, MS, CCLS

Outpatient Oncology

Molly Bogan, CCLS

4East (General Pediatrics, Pulmonology, GI)

Molly Donadee, MS, CCLS

Pediatric ICU

Julie Edwards, CCLS

Cardiac ICU and Cardiac Stepdown

Mia Grau, MS, CCLS

Swank Autism Center

Julia Greco, MS, CCLS

2 West (Postsurgical, Solid Organ Transplant, Trach/Vent)

Kennedy Hubbard, Float CLS

Meredith Krewson, M.Ed

Emergency Department

Laura Mitchell, CCLS

Radiology and Day Medicine

Elissa Parkerson, MS, CCLS, Float CLS

Jana L. Teagle, CTRS, CCLS, CBIS


Madeline Velázquez, CCLS

Emergency Department

Melanie Velez, MS, CCLS

Neonatal ICU

Kim Vignola, CCLS

3E/3W (Blood Disorders, Endocrine and Orthopedics)

Lisa Vitlip, MS, CCLS

Inpatient Oncology

Child Life Activity Coordinators

Katie Charlton

Kassidy Sholette

Ezra Wittwer


Other Team Members

Child Life Program Coordinator

Sara Narinam
Work Cell: (302) 298-6769

Pet Therapy Coordinator

Kelsey Cebula, CCLS
Work Cell: (302) 287-5172

Art Therapist

Jess Kee, MA, ATR-BC

Music Therapist

Emily Smith, MT-BC

Kate Henderson, MT-BC

Gaming and Technology Specialist

Scott Shaw

What We Do

When a child is anxious or overwhelmed, or other children have difficulty understanding what's happening, it can affect everyone. Child Life specialists support the entire family during a medical experience. Our staff provide all kinds of services and support not only to our patients, but also to parents, siblings and other family members.

Psychosocial support

We can help your child cope with an injury, diagnosis or treatment by encouraging discussion, answering questions, and talking about feelings and concerns.

Preprocedure/preoperative support

We work to reduce your child’s fears and anxiety before a procedure or surgery by explaining what will happen and what to expect.

Support during a procedure

We try to reduce your child’s anxiety by providing distraction and nonmedical pain management.

Medical/therapeutic play

We try to help your child understand and cope better by playing with pretend or real medical equipment and providing opportunities to share feelings, concerns and fears.

Pain and stress management

We strive to ease physical, psychological and emotional pain with relaxation strategies such as guided imagery and deep breathing.

Creative stimulation/development

We use art, music and play activities to promote your child’s growth, maintain developmental milestones, and provide a creative outlet for dealing with emotions.

Bereavement services

We offer comfort, support and memorial activities for families in the event of a child’s death.

Our certified Child Life specialists are trained to understand the different ways children deal with stress, fear, confusion, anger, guilt and sadness — and help them develop coping strategies specific to their individual needs. We’re also here to provide information, support and guidance to parents, siblings and other family members as needed.

Child Life Activities & Playrooms

Kids of all ages want to explore, play and laugh, no matter where they are — even the hospital. Of course, in the hospital, kids’ choices are limited. That’s why we offer lots of fun Child Life programs and activities to keep all of the children we see, from tots to teens, uplifted and entertained during even the most difficult hospital stay.

What is the Child Life Clubhouse?

Located on the third floor, around the corner from the Family Resource Center, the Child Life Clubhouse is a fun place for patients and families to escape. The Clubhouse is a safe haven away from medical procedures, equipment and exams, where specially trained Child Life technicians provide normal play activities. Our patients, their families and visitors can participate in arts and crafts, play with a wide variety of toys and games, read, play video games, take part in cooking activities and much more.

Does the hospital also have playrooms?

On each inpatient unit, you'll find a playroom that's stocked with toys and activities. Patients, families and visitors can use the playrooms to relax, visit and engage in small group activities. Please ask a Child Life staff member if you have questions about the playroom on your unit.

How do I find out which activities and events are offered and when?

From the TV in your child's room, just click on the rollercoaster located on the homepage to find out about Child Life activities and events on the GetWellNetwork Event’s Calendar.

Can my child's siblings play too?

Brothers and sisters can absolutely play too. We just ask that all siblings and visitors under 10 years old be supervised by an adult when visiting the Child Life Clubhouse Center and playrooms.

Pet Therapy Program

The hospital is always abuzz when our furry, four-legged friends join us. Trained therapy teams visit in our playrooms and at the bedside. The dogs provide a great distraction and comfort to our children and families.

Benefits of Pet Therapy

Our tail-wagging friends and their certified handlers have an important job to do — bring smiles.

Pet therapy helps to:

  • reduce stress
  • improve self-esteem
  • lower blood pressure
  • improve overall well-being

Please contact a Child Life staff member for more information.

Be Part Of Our Child Life Program

We welcome visitors and performers from our community to spend time with our patients and families through our programming activities in our Child Life Program.

Be Part of Our Child Life Program

One-Time Volunteer Visits:

Make a Gift or Donation

Make a Monetary Gift or Donation Online

We’re thankful for our thoughtful and generous community, which provides us with a variety of toys, crafts, games, books and activities for kids of all ages.

Wish list

We truly appreciate donations of new, unused toys, books, craft supplies and age-appropriate video games.

Watch Our Donation Video

Contact Us

Internship and Pre-Internships Programs

The Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware offers comprehensive Child Life internships and pre-internships programs open to college students and graduates during the fall and spring semesters.

In September 2016, the internship program at Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware earned accreditation from the Child Life Council. This accreditation assures that our program meets the minimum standards and requirements established for clinical preparation programs in child life in the most current Official Documents of the Child Life Council as well as the Essential Curriculum Topics for Child Life Clinical Internships.

Accreditation is a voluntary two-step process of self-study and external review intended to evaluate, enhance and publicly recognize quality child life clinical internship programs, promoting the interests of students and the child life profession as a whole through continuous quality improvement of learning and professional practice.

Contact Program Coordinators

Internship Coordinators

Laura Mitchell, CCLS

Internship Coordinator
(302) 651-4849

Jana Teagle, CCLS, CTRS, CBIS

Internship Co-Coordinator
(302) 298-7316

Pre-Internship Coordinators

Julia Grecco, MS, CCLS

(302) 651-6377
Pre-Internship Coordinator

Kim Vignola, CCLS

(302) 298-7712
Pre-Internship Co-Coordinator