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Why We Love Child Life Specialists

March 30, 2013

March is Child Life Month, and all of us here at Starlight MidAtlantic would like to thank Child Life and Recreation Therapy Teams working in Children’s Hospitals and Pediatric Units inDC, DE, MD, PA, VA and WV (and across the US, and the world!).

child life care teams are important!

Child Life Specialists are child development experts who help hospitalized kids cope with the stress and uncertainty that come with illness and hospitalization.

These are just a few of the MANY reasons we love them:

  1. Child Life Specialists prepare kids for medical procedures using age-appropriate language that kids can understand.  Research has shown that children who are prepared for tests and treatments experience less fear and anxiety.
  2. Child Life Specialists provide support and distraction during procedures, to help reduce pain, fear, and boredom, and can sometimes even eliminate the need for sedation.
  3. Child Life Specialists offer opportunities for kids to play! We’ve seen them help patients pass the time by bringing activities like games and crafts or wheeling in a Fun Center to play video games and movies.  They encourage FUN and “just being a kid” in challenging circumstances for pediatric patients, and their siblings (yes, Child Life Specialists are there for siblings too!).

Child Life Specialists do all this and more. To all the Child Life care teams helping kids in Children’s Hospitals and pediatric units, thank you for all that you do! We love working with you.

-Barbara, Rebecca, Nick, and Erin

The Team at Starlight MidAtlantic

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Oh Say Can You See

September 2, 2011

From the floor of the Verizon Center, and on the four 350 square foot HD screens above the arena, came the voice and beaming face of a Starlight Children’s Foundation MidAtlantic SuperStar, Zhane, singing her powerful and moving rendition of the national anthem to an excited crowd at Saturday night’s Washington Mystics game against the visiting Chicago Sky. One entire section of the stadium was paying particular attention to the performance – a section filled with Starlight families celebrating one of their own.

After the singing and the congratulating, the game started and it was a fantastic one. Close the whole way through, with 18 lead changes. Washington led 38-42 at the end of the first half but Chicago had taken the lead at 58-57 by the end of the third. In the fourth quarter, there was no letup. With 20 seconds left in the game, a free throw gave Washington a 3-point lead. A Chicago layup brought the game to within 1 with 4.7 seconds left and Chicago fouled immediately on the Washington inbound pass. Washington missed both free throws and Chicago got the rebound on the second miss and pushed the ball up the court. With only 7/10 of a second left in the game, Washington fouled Chicago’s shooter on a 3-point attempt. The crowd groaned, then erupted at the call. Not intimidated by the hostile home crowd, Chicago hit the first two free throws for a 71-70 lead, then intentionally hit the rim on the third free throw to start the clock and end the game. Such a disappointing setback for a Washington team struggling through a tough season.

But on the way out of the arena, hearing all of the local fans say, as you would expect them to, that the last foul just wasn’t fair, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the perspective a Starlight volunteer learns. It would have been great for the local team to have gotten the call and won the game, but in the whole world of what is and isn’t important, of what is and isn’t fair, the outcome of a game of basketball falls pretty far below the health of a child. The victories and setbacks our families experience every day.

So, walking out of the arena, remembering the smile and voice of a happy Starlight child as she sang for her family, her friends, and her community, the final score of the game really didn’t matter. What mattered was a night with Starlight families sharing their love and strength with each other.

-Rob Simpson, Starlight MidAtlantic Volunteer

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Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

August 31, 2011

 

Starlight MidAtlantic Nats and Phillies fans came together for this amazing event

Last Sunday, August 21st, Starlight Children’s Foundation™ MidAtlantic took 30 families to a Washington National’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies.  Starlight families from Pennsylvania, Maryland, DC, and Virginia braved traffic, the August summer heat, and thunderstorms to come to the game.  Starlight Phillies and Nationals fans traveled from all over the area to take advantage of this fun summer Great Escape™, the furthest family came from over 3 and a half hours away!

 

The baseball game was an exciting and much needed distraction for the Starlight families who came out to support their favorite teams.  One family told Starlight, “Thanks so much for the tickets.  Both of our boys enjoyed the game, despite the rain delays…Plus we sat right next another family who lives right in our town and it was good to chat with them as their daughter is going through similar challenges to our son. Thanks again for keeping smiles on their faces. “

 

 

 

Even the slight delay due to lightening and rain did not deter the families from enjoying the close game with the Nationals taking the win in the tenth inning! Many thanks to  Starlight  MidAtlantic  for organizing this special event and making the Sunday afternoon a memorable one for so many Starlight Families!

-Caitlin Delaney, Young Professionals Council Member

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Day Brightener Thank You!

August 29, 2011

Recently, Starlight Children’s Foundation™ MidAtlantic sent Macey’s family Day Brightener tickets to an Orioles Game. Happy to take a break from the stress of doctors appointments and hospitals, the family enjoyed a fun-filled afternoon:

Thank you again for the tickets. It ended up being a beautiful day. It was me and the girls first game. Had a great time! Thank you for thinking of us. If you ever have any extras were in! My husband said he went to games his whole life and those were the best seats he has ever had!

Thank you again, Macey’s Family

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Save the Date: 12th Annual Taste of the Stars Gala!

August 24, 2011

The majority of the Starlight Children’s Foundation MidAtlantic’s funding comes from the annual gala, featuring a silent and live auction.  In the past, the gala has raised over half a million dollars and with the help of Gala Chair, Jim Bell, will raise even more to increase programming for seriously ill children and their families.  Starlight MidAtlantic provides over 2 million hours annually to 200,000 seriously ill children and their families receiving treatment at 154 hospitals in six states, living with diagnoses such as cancer/leukemia, sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, and cerebral palsy. Many have more than one diagnosis and some take as many as 50 medications per day.

Taste of the Stars Gala will be held on Saturday, November 19, 2011 at the five-star Four Seasons in Georgetown.  This will be Executive Director Barbara Schreiber’s second Gala and the Organization’s Twelfth, “It’s an amazing evening shared with people committed to creating fun for families facing the unimaginable: children battling for their young lives.”

-Nicole Kennedy, Community Outreach Coordinator

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The Smurfs 3-D!

August 22, 2011


“We can’t imagine, so we help,” is a truth that I have learned from our families during the past 18 months at Starlight Children’s Foundation™ MidAtlantic.  At each of our events, we connect with families who are facing the unimaginable.  In August, we met a new family from Richmond.  Meesha is a precious 4-year old with three very active brothers and a mother and father who are amazing.  They were introduced to Starlight MidAtlantic through MCV Hospital.  At Meesha’s young age, she is battling cancer.

Her father was excited that they were invited to a Smurf 3-D Great Escape.  They were in the middle of a week filled with chemotherapy treatments and were happy that they would have a great weekend to look forward to,“A treat as we spend the weekend and return back to MCV for more treatments,” her father said.  By Friday, things were not going well and we were informed that they would not be able to join us after all.  Meesha was too sick to leave the hospital.

Watching in 3-D!

Times like these make us think even more seriously about our mission.  Twenty-six other families whose children are also facing serious medical challenges would be joining us, so the show had to go on.  This was a big deal – a private viewing of Smurfs in 3-D.  The Commonwealth Stadium 20 & IMAX located in Midlothian was opening its doors early just for Starlight MidAtlantic families.  This wasn’t just a movie, it was an experience – an entire theater all to ourselves, complete with popcorn, soda, and candy, all at 9:30 in the morning.  Everyone was excited, but nobody more than me when Meesha’s family reported in.

As it turned out, our Great Escape, Smurfs in 3-D, became part of her treatment plan with her entire healthcare team doing everything they could to get her well enough for 48 hours of leave.  Her grateful father said, “You don’t know how much this means to us.  You think it’s only a movie.  How do I put words to express … how much this event means to us!!”

And so the show did go on with 27 families sporting 3-D glasses on 112 smiling faces.

Sporting the 3-D Glasses

–Barbara Schreiber, Executive Director


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Leggo my LEGO!

August 19, 2011

You would never know before walking through its front doors how grand the space inside of the National Building Museum really is.

Stepping into the museum will likely make you gasp, as the ceiling darts up hundreds of feet above you and the hall appears to provide enough open space to place a football field neatly within its walls. As Starlight MidAtlantic children and their families arrived on Sunday afternoon, July 31, you could read the excitement all over their faces; including thoughts of taking a lap around the museum, and one little boy did not waste any time in doing just that! After families finished their lunches of Potbelly’s sandwiches with peppers piled high and yummy cookies, they all migrated upstairs to the famous LEGO ® Architecture: Towering Ambition exhibit.

The exhibit greets you with the Buri Khalifa, the tallest building in the world!  There were also perfectly replicated LEGO sculptures of the White House, the Empire State Building, and the Sears Tower among several others. One family member told us “I’m pretty good at building with LEGOs myself, I’m pretty sure I can make any of these models for my nephew.”

Children could be found in any corner of the open LEGO table working together building bridges or racecars, and one girl worked independently building a tower as tall as her. The parents offered their advice, looked on in support, and took pictures in pride, happy for their family to get a break from the stress of hospitals and childhood illness.  A great time was had by children and parents alike, and if anyone needed a perfect piece to finish their unique model, no one hesitated to say “Hey! Leggo my LEGO! Please.”

-Tahis Blue, Summer Intern 2011

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