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Child Life Department

Certified Child Life Specialists at BC Children's Hospital make hospitalization a more positive experience for patients through play, therapeutic interventions, preparation, and creative arts.
Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS) promote coping through various interventions to help children, youth and families with stressful life events. Play and other normalizing activities help with this coping process. Child life programs endeavour to meet each family’s unique emotional and social needs.

Certified Child Life Specialists help to reduce stress and make hospitalization a more positive experience for children and teens through:

  • Child/teen friendly preparation & explanation for medical tests & procedures

  • Play opportunities to normalize the hospital environment

  • Patient & family-centered procedural coping plans

  • Support & therapeutic interventions during procedures & tests 


At BC Children's Hospital we have an extensive team of Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS) providing direct patient care throughout the various hospital care areas. CCLS's are educated and clinically trained in child development and the impact of hospitalization on children and youth. All of our CCLS's are certified through the Association of Child Life Professionals. CCLS's are experts on evidence-based therapeutic interventions that minimize stress and maximize social-emotional coping for children and youth in the hospital setting.

In the hospital setting, children and youth experience various challenging events that are often stressful and anxiety-inducing. Certified Child Life Specialists help our patients to cope with these events by providing clinical interventions in the form of preparation for hospital tests and procedures, support during tests and procedures, therapeutic play, education about hospitalization, and teaching coping methods and strategies. 


Our Certified Child Life Specialists supports direct-patient care at BC Children's Hospital by providing:

  • Developmentally appropriate and individualized patient preparation for medical tests and procedures
  • Therapeutic interventions to promote coping during medical tests and procedures 
  • Therapeutic play sessions including healthcare play to reduce patient anxiety and promote mastery of medical experiences
  • Collaboration with the patient's medical team to maximize the patient's coping in the hospital environment
  • Support to patient's family to promote a family-centred care approach
  • A variety of recreational play opportunities in a hospital setting 
  • Patients with opportunities for peer socialization
  • Coordination of holiday events, entertainment, and special visitors
  • Support to Therapeutic Clown Program and Pet Therapy Program 
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Creative Art Program:

The Creative Art Program provides therapeutic art experiences for patients and families in order to support healing, coping and resilience. Through individual art opportunities at the bedside, art groups in the studio, special events, and one-on-one art therapy sessions, patients and families are invited to explore, create and express. 


Pet Therapy Program: 

The Pet Therapy Program in partnership with Patience Experience support the psychosocial needs of children and families in hospital by providing them with: 

  • Opportunities to experience unconditional acceptance and affection between dogs and individuals
  • Relief from stress and anxiety of hospitalization
  • Normalized opportunities for socialization, sensory stimulation, and diversion that children can look forward to on a regular basis
  • Activities that increase patient responsiveness and ease isolation and boredom

Please contact Lisa Knight for more information about the Pet Therapy Program and see "Volunteering with us" for information on becoming a therapeutic dog volunteer. 

For further information about the professional requirements of becoming a Certified Child Life Specialist please see The Association of Child Life Professionals website and read through their Certification Manual.  

For information on child life internships please see the Train with Us page. 

Visit our careers page for current child life job postings at BC Children's Hospital.

Please visit these links before contacting a child life specialist at BC Children's Hospital 

To Become a Child Life Volunteer:

Volunteers and students are an integral part of child life service. If you would like to volunteer, see Volunteer with Us

If you would like a list of toys, games and other items the Child Life Department needs in their play areas and units, please see our wish list. You are also able to give online through our hospital foundation. 

For all non-monetary donations, please contact Patient Experience.

Due to infection control guidelines, we regret that we cannot accept any used toys or books for patient care areas.

The Sunny Bear Birthday Club helps your child donate any funds raised from birthdays to the patients and families of the hospital. 

Thank you to our donors. Without you, we wouldn't be able to do what we do. 


It is important that children and youth understand what is happening to them while they are in the hospital.  Below are some preparation materials to help your child or youth prepare for different procedures.

Bloodwork is a very common procedure for children coming to the hospitals. Provided below are a variety of resources aimed to alleviate the potential stress of coming for bloodwork:


Avoiding Restraint and Positioning for Comfort:

We understand that a blood test can be very anxiety inducing for a child, and it can be difficult to remain still when feeling anxious. To ensure that your child has a successful, but positive experience, we would like to share comfort positions that can be done during a blood test or immunization. 

Contact Us

If you feel that your child would benefit from extra support with getting bloodwork, please contact Lisa Knight or Jackie Nixon to book a child life specialist to work with your child at BC Children's Hospital.

Please visit our BC Children's COVID-19 page for helpful information about COVID-19, such as talking to children about COVID-19. 

For information about helping children and teens cope based on different ages and stages, see our resource below:


The child life department offers opportunities for children and youth to prepare for a non-sedated MRI with an MRI simulator. Please contact MRI Simulator for more information.

Non-Sedated MRI:


MRI with Sedation:

Surgery is a very common procedure for children coming into the hospital.   Provided below are a variety of resources aimed to alleviate the potential stress of coming for surgery:

*Every person with autism is unique. Patients with autism who come for surgery will fill out an assessment tool with the pre-anesthetic nursing staff to help the medical team better understand your child's needs.

Contact Us

If your child would benefit from extra support for their upcoming surgery, please contact Heather Hameluck and Alyssia Premji

Caregiver Resources 

As a caregiver, your support is invaluable to your child's hospital experience. Below are resources aimed to guide caregivers on how to best support their children:

Our Team


Please see the list below for our current team of Child Life Specialists within each area of the hospital.

Practice Lead

Ambulatory Surgical Clinics
Laura Walker -
Stephanie Kennedy -

Anesthetic Care Unit
Alyssia Premji -
Emma Ferdinands - 

Emergency Department
Becki Steel -
Bernadette Sanchez -
Heather Hameluck -

Emily Deimling - 

Jackie Nixon - 
Lisa Knight -

Medical Day Unit 

Medical Imaging
For MRI Simulator support:
Jade Palm -
Kasia Krasny - 

Pediatric Intensive Care Unit 
Natasha James -

Pet Therapy Program
Lisa Knight -

Renal Dialysis Unit 
Tracy Denhoed -

Sunny Hill Inpatient/Outpatient 
Emily Wriglesworth 

T6 Inpatient Surgical Units and Burn Care
Catherine Leung - (Burn Care) 
Dawn McKellar -
Shavaun Chan -

T7 Inpatient Medical Units
Catia Stuart - (and Creative Arts)  
Rita Marchildon - 
Megan Wiebe - 

T8 Oncology, Hematology, BMT Inpatient
Heather Denton -
Tracy Denhoed -

T8 Oncology, Hematology, BMT Outpatient Clinic
Kristina Jackson -

Weekend Programming
Amanda Lascelle -

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For information on child life internships please see the Train with Us page. 

SOURCE: Child Life Department ( )
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