What is Child Life?

No child is prepared to face a serious illness or to be admitted to the hospital. A Certified Child Life Specialist serves as their guide to this strange new world.

For decades Certified Child Life Specialists have improved children’s lives by providing their clinical and emotional expertise. Using evidence-based techniques, they have the skills to support a child’s emotional and physical development throughout their stay at Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Every donation to the Child Life program helps us provide these important services:

  • Pre-admission and pre-surgical tours
  • Activities in the playroom, teen lounge, and bedside
  • Preparation for medical tests, procedures, and surgeries
  • Providing a sense of normalcy for children coping with serious health issues
  • Reducing stress to help recovery and allow children to cope with their medical situation
  • Bereavement support with team members in the PICU and NICU
  • Special events such as pet therapy, clowns, as well as planning birthday and holiday celebrations



Pet Therapy

Music Therapy

Educational Services 

Child Advocacy

How Your Gift Impacts a Child’s Life

While a child is in the hospital, Child Life professionals alleviate their anxiety by providing comfort and understanding during their stay. Communicating through play, they connect on a child’s level and put a smile on their faces at every opportunity! By supporting the Child Life program at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, you can positively impact a child’s life now and for a lifetime to come!


The Top 5 Ways Child Life Makes a Difference   

These programs are only possible with private support from generous donors in our community!

1. Technology Keeps Kids Connected

To help keep kids connected to the world beyond their hospital bed, Golisano Children’s Hospital’s digital and media specialist seeks out educational, therapeutic and recreational technology. It’s all about keeping life as normal as possible.

2. Finding Comfort in a Therapy Dog

As a full-time resident at Golisano Children’s Hospital, Dorian the dog is professionally trained to work in a health care setting. His main duties include snuggling with children, making them smile, and:

  • Providing an alternate focus and comfort for patients during painful procedures
  • Teaching patients about upcoming tests and procedures
  • Encouraging patients to ambulate after surgery and during hospitalization
  • Easing stress and anxiety of patients and families through physical contact and soft touch
  • Serving as non-pharmacological support for pain management
  • Comforting during end-of-life and bereavement

3. Reaching Medical Goals Through Music

While it might look like entertainment at times, Music Therapy helps to reach medical goals like decreasing pain, getting out of bed after a surgery, or improving compliance with medications and treatments. Board certified music therapists, who hold bachelor’s degrees in their specialty, develop sessions based on medical diagnosis, assessment, and report from Golisano’s interdisciplinary team. 

4. Educationally, The Show Must Go On

For some children, their classroom is a hospital bed, complete with beeping machines, medical tests, treatments and needles. To reduce the stress and fear of being in the hospital and falling behind in school, Golisano Children’s Hospital provides an in-house teacher and Child Life Specialists who help each child achieve their academic goals. You can enhance this program by giving to the Golisano Children’s Hospital School & Educational Endowment Fund!

5. Promoting Safety Through Child Advocacy

Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for children through age 19. So, it is the mission of the Child Advocacy Department at Golisano Children’s Hospital to reach as many families in our community with the proper knowledge about injury prevention. We provide:

  • Community classes
  • One-on-one sessions
  • Family-friendly events and health fairs
  • Bedside consultation

Your Halloween Purchases Can Benefit Child Life!

You can help make health care less scary for children by participating in the annual Spirit of Halloween annual fundraiser. Simply purchase Halloween costumes and décor at Spirit of Halloween stores or online. They will donate a portion of the proceeds to Golisano Children’s Hospital’s Child Life program. Did we mention you get a discount on your purchase as well?! Additionally, Spirit of Halloween brings the celebration – complete with costumes and crafts – to children in the hospital. It’s an amazing experience for the young people in our care!

Learn more

Special Thanks to an Essential Partner: Suncoast Credit Union

Suncoast Credit Union has been an essential partner of Lee Health and Golisano Children’s Hospital for many years, working together on initiatives where the values of the organization align with the mission of the healthcare system. Over the past few years, Suncoast has funded a classroom at Golisano Children’s Hospital as well as supported the in-house schoolteacher so patients may continue to meet their educational goals. Made possible in part by Suncoast Credit Union through Kids’ Minds Matter – the pediatric mental and behavioral health fund at Lee Health, two mental health care navigators were placed in Lee County Schools in 2020. Also, in 2020, Suncoast Credit Union supported the expansion of pediatric ophthalmology services at Golisano Children’s Services.