ALERT:
In light of the ongoing recommendations surrounding COVID-19, the Child Life Department has made the difficult decision to suspended all donations of toys and play materials. We feel that it’s in the best interest for all to limit the amount of play materials for patient use coming from the community into our hospital at this time.

Please know that our community was so generous during the 2019 holiday season. We can assure you are well stocked and prepared to get through all of the play requests in the upcoming weeks.

If you’d like to make a donation to our department during this time, please consider an online donation »

Thank you for supporting play in our hospital. We cannot create fun, distracting and therapeutic experiences for our patients without you.


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.

About Child Life

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.

Play 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 are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 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 play space here:

  • Third Floor Teen Space: for adolescents ages 12 years and older
  • Fourth & Fifth 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.


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.


Music Therapy

Music therapy is based on science and is safe. At Nemours Children’s Hospital, a board-certified music therapist makes music therapy visits to patients to help meet their individual needs.


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.

Get Involved

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.


Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers help the Child Life Program in so many ways.

Find Out How to Become a Hospital Volunteer »

Special Event Visitors

All special guests and visitors must apply and be approved prior to visiting Nemours Children’s Hospital. To provide a positive experience for special visitors, patients, and families at the hospital, all visitors must review and agree to these guidelines and submit the below application.

 
Guidelines for Special Event Visitors
  • All special visits must be prearranged at least 2 weeks before the visit date. All guests and visitors must fill out the special visit application and be notified of approval before they arrive at the hospital.
  • All individuals must check in at Security and receive an identification badge and must be accompanied by a Nemours Children’s Hospital Child Life staff member while in the hospital.
  • The number of guests and visitors will be limited to 5 people and all participants must be 18+ years of age and out of high school.
  • Photos and recordings of patients and families are not permitted.
  • During winter months, when there is increased concern for infection control, visits will be limited.
  • Any toys, prizes or gifts that will be donated or handed out to patients and families MUST be prearranged and approved prior to your event.
  • All group members will respect patient confidentiality. Information gained during the visits must NOT be discussed or shared outside the hospital.
  • All group members will follow directions of hospital staff and Child Life team.
  • Many of our patients are extremely susceptible to infection and must be protected from exposure. Please do not visit if you are sick. You must be free of any illness or symptoms for at least 48 hours.
  • We have patients representing a wide variety of religious beliefs. No religious materials may be given out or taught.
  • Donations for the patients are very much appreciated. Donations are used throughout the year as birthday presents and daily use in the playroom. Please visit our "Donations" tab above to review our donation guidelines and wish lists if you wish to make a general donation unrelated to your event.
 
Special Event Planning Guide

Scheduling

  • Patient events are scheduled from 11 to noon, 1-2 p.m., and 2-3 p.m. Monday–Friday. The following time slots are not available due to regularly scheduled activities
    • Third Thursday of the month in the afternoon
    • Fourth Tuesday of the month
    • Fourth Thursday of the month

Examples of Events

  • Group craft activity
  • Board game play
  • Small group bedside performances (musical or dance)

To note: Your group is responsible for providing all activity supplies, your activities must be preapproved, and your group must consist of 5 people or less all 18 years of age or older. When planning for a craft activity, plan for all age patients and plan supplies for 15–20 children. This allows projects to be delivered to patients who are unable to leave their rooms.

 
Apply to be a Special Event Visitor

Due to the volume of requests received, we cannot accommodate all requests. Special guests must apply using the form below at least 4 weeks before your proposed event for your application to be considered. Once your application has been received, please allow up to 2 weeks for a response from our Child Life Department on whether or not your event has been approved. Special event visitors that arrive at the hospital without prior approval will be turned away. 

Special Event Visitor Application (PDF) »

Donations

Make a Gift or Donation

Thank you for thinking of Nemours Children’s Hospital in your charitable giving. 

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, new books and (age-appropriate) video games for Xbox One. Your contributions and donations help speed the healing process of children at our hospital.

 
Donation Guidelines

While we love receiving your gifts including toys, blankets and other in-kind donations, for the protection of our patients, we have restrictions surrounding this process. Please review our guidelines carefully to be certain your donations are acceptable. Please email the Child Life Department for all gift in-kind inquiries.

  • All donated items must be new.
  • Donations cannot have any donor identification or contact information (i.e., first or last names, phone numbers, email addresses, website, blogs, personal stories, etc.). If donations include any personal information, they will either be removed before distribution, or the donation may be declined based on the discretion of the Child Life personnel.
  • Donors will not be allowed to personally deliver gifts to patients or families.
  • Donors should not expect to receive pictures, stories or updates from patients or families.
  • We do not accept gift-wrapped items.
  • Please respect the beliefs of our patients by not donating religious or political items.

Safety Requirements

  • No used items will be accepted due to infection control guidelines.
  • No medical equipment, baby formula, food/candy, bikes/scooters or large stuffed animals are accepted.
  • We do not accept violent toys or games (such as toy guns).
  • For durability and safety purposes, we prefer name brand items when possible.
  • Stuffed animals or any type of plush toy cannot be accepted unless they are in the original manufacturer’s packaging.
  • Handmade cards cannot be accepted due to infection control policies.
  • No latex balloons or anything containing latex.

Handmade Items Accepted:

  • Fleece blankets (minimum 48 inches by 48 inches, maximum 64 inches by 53 inches)
  • Faceless dolls in culturally different skin colors (tan, brown, etc.). Download a pattern (PDF)
  • Lovies: A blanket with a small animal head that is easy to grip (no button or bead eyes)
  • Standard pillowcases (18 inches by 10 inches)
  • Taggies blankets. Download a pattern)
  • When preparing your handmade items for donation, please remember the following things:
    • Avoid exposing any handmade or cloth items to strong odors such as smoke, moth balls, perfumes and/or colognes and pet hair. We will not be able to use items that have a strong odor.
    • Please pre-wash the material of any sewn items.
    • Remove all sewing pins/needles. You may want to acquire a magnetic wand to locate any pins.
    • Use clean hands when sewing/knitting.
    • Avoid working on your project when you are ill.
    • Avoid pinning notes to the item.
    • All accessories must be sewn as part of the original design (eyes, nose, flowers, decorative items, etc.). Plastic buttons that are sewn on are a choking hazard should they become detached.
    • Please individually contain items in clear bag or tote before donation.

For further information on toy and safety guidelines, please refer to Consumer Product Safety Commission’s toy recall web site at www.cpsc.gov.

 
Donation Delivery
  •  Please drop off your donations to the security desk Monday–Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Nemours Children’s Hospital inside the main entrance (6535 Nemours Parkway, Orlando).
  • Donation forms are available at the security desk and are required to receive a receipt of your donation.
  • Please email Please email the Child Life Department to schedule an appointment to deliver large volume donations.
  • All donated items must be new. No used items will be accepted due to infection control guidelines.

If you are interested in making a holiday specific donation please visit our Holiday Donations Tab (or read below).

 
Holiday Donation Guidelines

At Nemours Children’s Hospital we encourage the celebration of holidays as it helps normalize hospitalization for children. If you are interested in donating a holiday-specific item (decorations, stuffed animals with holiday regalia, holiday-specific crafts, etc.), please email the Child Life Department prior to the holiday. Unfortunately we are not able to accept holiday themed donations once a holiday has passed. When donating seasonal or holiday items, please note the recommended donation timelines to allow for processing by our staff:

  • Valentine’s Day — suggested delivery by January
  • Spring holidays — suggested delivery by February
  • Fall/Halloween — suggested delivery by August
  • Winter holidays — check back in November to view holiday donation times
 
Wish Lists

Nemours Children’s Hospital has an Amazon Wish List (items will be shipped to hospital).
You can also download our Child Life Wish List (PDF) for items that we always need.

Meet the Team

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 Association of Child Life professionals (ACLP). 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

Emily Bradley

Lead Child Life Specialist
Acute Care
emily.bradley@nemours.org

Shalese Bennett

Child Life Specialist
Acute Care, Hematology/Oncology
shalese.bennett@nemours.org

Kristin Brown

Child Life Specialist
Emergency Department, Inpatient Rehab
kristin.brown@nemours.org

Kelsey Knipple

Child Life Specialist
PICU
kelsey.knipple@nemours.org

Jenna Read

Child Life Specialist
Surgery, CICU
jenna.read@nemours.org

Gloria Mendez

Child Life Specialist
Medical Imaging
gloria.mendez@nemours.org

Alexis Plumb

Child Life Specialist
Emergency Department, Inpatient Rehab
alexis.plumb@nemours.org

Internships

Internship Program

Nemours Children's Hospital offers a comprehensive Child Life internship program open to college students during the fall and spring semesters. We follow the deadline schedule recommended by the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP). Please review the attachments below for application requirements and frequently asked questions. If you have additional questions please contact us directly. At this time we do not offer a practicum program.

Contact Us

Shalese Bennett, CCLS

Internship Coordinator
(407) 567-4831
shalese.bennett@nemours.org

Emily Bradley

Internship Co-Coordinator
(407) 567-6413
emily.bradley@nemours.org

Contact Us

Emily Bradley

Lead Child Life Specialist
(407) 567-6413
emily.bradley@nemours.org

Child Life Program

Nemours Children’s Hospital
6535 Nemours Parkway
Orlando, FL 32827

Hours

Monday–Friday: 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday–Sunday: 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.