Being at the hospital and going through treatment can be demanding and tiring for patients and their families especially if they are here for a long period of time. Being away from home often means missing out on daily activities and events that are typically incorporated in a child and family’s routine. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital recognizes the importance of normalizing the child and family’s hospital stay. Child life specialists provide special events that enable families to have those experiences that also give opportunities to celebrate their child and positive moments in their life. A special event is defined as a planned activity or performance, having educational, inspirational, or entertainment value for children, adolescents, and their families.
The Child Life Department provides the following events each year for patients and families:
A Gallery of Expression – Better known to insiders as the Teen Art Show. This is the one evening a year that various works of art, displayed like a swanky gallery opening, feature our teen patients and siblings. Throughout the year teen and young adult patients and siblings use art to not only highlight their dramatic talents but also to express to family and staff attendants the experience of the hospital through a teen’s perspective. Art has included photography, drawings, paintings, collage, music, beading, crochet, sculptures, and poetry. There are more than 70 individual pieces as well as at least two large collaborative projects each year.
Halloween – Child life participates in the hospital-wide event. Each year units pick a theme to transform their assigned area for one day. Patients and siblings wishing to take part are given a map featuring over 50 stops and a trick or treat bag. Sugar and smiles galore!
Child Life/Music Therapy Month – Each year during the month of March, a day is set aside to honor the work child life specialists and music therapists contribute to the children and their families. A celebration is planned for staff, patients, and families to learn about Child Life and Music Therapy. While learning about the professions, attendees have the opportunity to have fun by taking part in some of the entertainment and eating snacks! This event always has a fun theme and everyone is encouraged to come together and have some fun!
Easter – Child Life will host an Easter activity for all inpatients and their families. The Easter Bunny hops his way down the halls of St. Jude and delivers baskets to all the in-patient rooms. This is an event for the scrap book, so parents get their cameras ready! Sweets for all!
Teen Formal – This celebrates one of the most hallowed events in a teen’s life: prom. Patients and their siblings ages 15 to 19 are invited to dance the night away. Due to the generous donations of staff and many local businesses, this glamorous evening complete with red carpet, limousines, prom pictures, formal wear, and makeovers creates an unforgettable night for our young adults.
Family Fun Day – Child Life hosts St. Jude Family Fun Day each year in May. The event will includes many fun activities to encourage family togetherness. Families will get to experience fun themes such as “A Night at the Movies” or “Vacation Destinations.” Activities have included a photo booth, caricature artist, arts/crafts, and food to match the themes. To help families relax, the evening will concludes with a movie coinciding with the theme.
Sibling Star Day – Siblings are such an important part of the family and very often during treatment the focus has to be about their sick brother or sister. Because siblings also play a huge part in the hospital experience, and in the spirit of family-centered care, St. Jude wanted to set aside an annual time to honor them. This day helps to acknowledge the enormous contributions brothers and sisters make every day in the healing process and allows them a time to shine. The day includes a therapeutic group time for siblings ages 4- 19 years; a party for patients and families honoring and thanking siblings for all they do; and a ceremony and sibling trophy presentation.
Neon Night of Fun – In August, patients, siblings and guests ages 10–14 have a Neon Night of Fun in the Kay Kafe Rotunda. Each year, fun neon activities are provided to go along with the fun music provided by a local DJ. The famous chefs of St. Jude cater the event with great food that is sure to make the children glow! Since this event is for pre-teens only, something special is always planned for parents to do as well in a different location of the hospital.
Other celebrated events: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, July 4th, Birthdays, End of Chemo, End of Radiation, End of Transplant etc.