I'm so happy you're here!
I'm Kara Kimball, a Utah native and mother of four. I have a BS in Family Life with a Human Development emphasis from Brigham Young University and I'm a Certified Child Life Specialist.
You might not know what a "child life specialist" is, and highlighting this incredible field is one of the reasons why I started Child Life Saver. When I discovered the Child Life profession, my first impression was that I would be just playing with kids who were hospitalized. It wasn't until I completed my additional Child Life coursework at the University of Utah that I discovered how deeply complex, vital, and incredibly needed this work is for patients and families and for the healthcare team.
I love learning about children and their development and I'm thrilled to be sharing a bit of what I love and am so passionate about - helping children grow and develop despite having to endure and cope with such difficult medical experiences. Enjoy Child Life, I know it will be a "lifesaver" for you and your little ones!
About Child Life Saver
After becoming a mother, I realized what a huge advantage I have during my kids' healthcare experiences. It felt unfair that other parents don't know what I know, many aren't aware of Child Life Specialists, and I also recognized that many hospitals don't have Child Life Specialists yet to help all families through these tough times. I also understand that Child Life Specialists serve a large patient population and there just aren't enough professionals for every child to receive Child Life services. They certainly can't follow you to your child's routine pediatrician check-up!
That's why Child Life Saver was born.
One of my most memorable professional experiences was with a 6-year-old girl in the Radiology Department. Just before her IV was placed and after I had shown and explained to her what was going to happen and why, we were doing some medical play together. During our play, she called me a doctor. I responded, "No, I'm not a doctor....that's not my job. What is my job called?" She said, "Child Life.... Saver!" At that moment, everything I had ever studied, learned, worked for and had been so passionate about felt fulfilled. I couldn't have agreed with that statement more!
Child Life Specialists, while they may not save children's lives physically, they save them psychosocially during some of the most stressful and traumatic times of their lives through play, preparation, education, and many other therapeutic, evidence-based interventions.
I believe Child Life saves children's lives every day and I know that you too can help save your child from the stress and trauma of their medical experiences and help them cope by learning some tips and tricks of my trade!
About Child Life
With backgrounds in child development, Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS) strive to minimize children's stress and trauma and increase their coping skills during their illness, injury, and hospitalization. Child life specialists focus on play, since we understand that play is the pathway through which children learn.
You can also think of child life specialists as teachers in the hospital setting, educating children about their healthcare experiences. While medical jargon is confusing and the environment is entirely threatening to a child, child life specialists explain to children in their terms and appropriate at their age and developmental levels what they will experience during a procedure or what to expect with their new diagnosis. Child life specialists create coping plans with children for upcoming procedures, for taking medications, and for adjusting to a hospital stay.
We're also a support person for the entire family and understand that the whole family unit is affected by these trying times. Working with and educating siblings, normalizing patients' environments, and creating legacies and helping children at end of life are just a few more things we do. The profession looks incredibly different depending on the area of the hospital, whether in the NICU, the emergency department, or in oncology, for example, children and families are supported in various ways by child life specialists!
Child Life is a relatively new field of work, developing mainly in the 1960s and 70s, however, dating back to the 1920s. Currently, every children's hospital in the United States has at least one child life specialist on staff! Most child life specialists work in a hospital setting, but you sometimes may also find them in a dental office, school, or hospice facility.
Find out how to support Child Life on my FAQ page!