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Smiling, happy kids at the Shands Hospital for Children

The Child Life Program was established to help children and families cope with the stress and anxiety of hospitalization. Child Life Specialists at UF Health Shands Children's Hospital are certified non-medical professionals who understand child development and provide interventions in an environment that will support normal growth and development.

Some interventions may include:

  • Help normalize the hospital environment and make it more positive
  • Provide preparation and procedure support for children undergoing medical tests
  • Allow patients opportunities to experience control, success, and self-expression through age-appropriate activities and therapeutic play
  • Provide medical play to allow children to rehearse, role play, and establish coping skills

Child Life Specialists

At UF Health Shands Children's Hospital, Child Life specialists:

  • Help make the hospital experience more positive
  • Support children undergoing medical procedures & treatments
  • Provide age appropriate individual and group recreational, educational, and therapeutic programs for pediatric patients
  • Assist patients with understanding and coping with medical procedures and surgery
  • Provide patients with time to talk about their feelings and ideas through dialogue, creative activities, and therapeutic play
  • Allow patients opportunities to experience control, success, creativity, and self-expression
  • Promote positive physical, social, and emotional development
  • Provide support and education to help family members cope with their concerns