The Child Life Department Hosts a Back to School Carnival

By Megan Kikola, M.S., CCLS
Child Life Assistant

If you happened to take the rotunda elevators to the Children’s Hospital on Friday, August 12, you would have been greeted by a wonderland of music, characters, and bright colors. A world where the pediatric patients were not focused on pokes, IV pumps and tears; but on games, prizes and laughter.  This event was the “Back to School Carnival” hosted by the Child Life Department at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.

A primary goal of child life professionals is to normalize the hospital environment, while providing psychosocial support to patients and families. Most importantly, child life professionals promote self expression and play. Creating a world where kids can be kids is always a priority, which is how the carnival idea came to be.

The creative vision was that of Sandra Dean, one of the child life assistants. “It’s all for the kids,” Dean said of the event, “…anything to make their stay memorable.” Her imagination, coupled with the support of wonderful donors brought the carnival to life. Once the plan was in place, the child life team got to work creatively, rallied volunteers, and gained the support of the medical teams.

Some highlights of the event included a bounce house, water balloon pop, a DJ, snow cones, games and prizes. Book bags filled with school supplies were donated and distributed to patients. The happiness and excitement of the patients made all of the hard work worthwhile. When told the event was underway, a young patient stated “Yay! I’m so happy!” as she ran toward the festivities. A parent shared, “It was so fun, my kids could have stayed in the bounce house all day.”

The child life team is very grateful for the continued support of the hospital community and volunteers and looks forward to hosting more of these events.

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