Friday, October 17, 2014

When Did you know you wanted to be a CLS?

Caroline's Story

I get asked all the time, "How did you find out about Child Life so early?" Want to know the long or the short version?!?

Growing up, I always dreamed of going to law school and becoming a judge someday; however, I realized in high school that there were many other ways I could help children and families. In high school, I shadowed a teacher and a pediatrician thinking that I may want to go into one of those fields. The pediatrician I was shadowing at the time said he had heard of what he called hospital educational therapy-- What he didn't realize was that he was referring to Child Life! 

At the same time, I had a friend who was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. She spent a lot of her high school years at the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta receiving all kinds of

treatments as she fought for her life. (Today she is doing well and actually applying to medical school!) I went to visit her, and met her Child Life Specialist. I thought, "I could see myself doing this!" 

Knowing that I wanted to do this should have made applying to college a little bit easier, but I didn't understand at the time what all was involved with pursuing this new found
calling. I applied to Georgia Southern University as a Child Life major... and the rest is history! No, really. The professors at GSU were excited to have an incoming freshman as a declared child life major. Immediately, I got involved with various volunteering opportunities (Deliver the Dream, Stirrup Some Fun, Camp Twin Lakes, etc.)  and I was nominated to be the Child Life Organization's Treasurer. 

As an honors student, I completed a senior honors thesis titled College Students Attitudes and Perceptions Towards Adults with Developmental Disabilities. I became the President of the Child Life Organization, volunteered at the children's hospital, and became an even bigger advocate of Child Life at GSU. Now that I am going back to get my Masters in Public and Healthcare administration, I am excited to use my knowledge of child development and my child life certification to shake things up in administration! 
New parts of my story:
Now I have completed my Master in Public Administration and I currently work in a non-profit children's home for boys and girls. I am using my skills as a child life specialist to use play to teach parents how to parent and children how to cope with trauma, neglect, and loss!

Sydney's Story 

I took the longer road less traveled route, I originally went to
school to become a nurse, but I always had a love for working with children so I was also working towards a minor in child development. One day while sitting in Lifespan development class, the current child life practicum class came and did a presentation on Child Life and what it entailed. (Who knew Caroline and I would be partnered up to give the very same presentation two years later??)

I instantly fell in love and called my mom to tell her all about it. She was supportive in me finding out more about the career but had never heard of such a thing (She is now my biggest supporter and tells everyone about child life, not bad for being a nurse herself!).

Later that same week, I had a meeting with my guidance counselor to find out more. By the next week I had my major changed and began looking for volunteer opportunities. The best part was about two months after changing my major one of the professors invited me to go to FACLP with the child life group...and who do you think ended up being my roommate ;)...that's right it was Miss Caroline. 

Once immersed, I never looked back. I started volunteering once a week at a children's hospital, as well as the local hospice, headed up a child life booth at Relay for Life, joined our university's Child Life Organization and eventually became Volunteer Coordinator.
Now, a first year child life specialist, I couldn't imagine a different career or being happier with my life. A perk of not starting with my major as child life was that I was able to take classes such Anatomy and Physiology, Chronic Diseases and Medical Terminology, all of which help me immensely today.

Everyone has a different story of how they came to child life...We want to know yours...Leave your story in the comments...We can't wait to read it! 



Anonymous said...

Caroline & Sydney, is it such a blessing and encouragement to have found your blog! So thank you!!! My name is Anna Marsh, and I am a Sophomore, Child Development major at the University of Memphis. I did not know what Child Life was until I met a CCLS from LeBonheur Children's Hospital the summer before my freshman year in college. She explained to me what it is she does and then answered my numerous questions about what Child Life entails. I am someone who is very curious and asks LOTS of questions, so I have been researching Child Life and how I can immerse myself in it even more ever since finding out what it was. After talking with the CCLS, I immediately fell in love with everything Child Life stands for and does to benefit children and families in healthcare settings and beyond! Your stories are very encouraging to me as I have just recently started on this path, and cannot wait to hear more about both of your adventures in Child Life!

I am curious, was it helpful to start a blog? I am considering beginning one myself, maybe just for personal reasons to keep track of my experience and path to becoming a Child Life Specialist, but I am not a huge fan of writing or keeping track of posting on a blog very often. Any advice you can give me will be much appreciated!

Child Life Blog said...

Anna! It's so good to hear from you and to make the leap of faith of commenting on our blog! We are so glad you have found Child Life! We can't wait to hear more about your journey.

As far as starting a blog goes, we did not decided to create one until after our internship. We felt that there was little open advice out there about what it takes to be a CCLS, and we wanted to share with girls like you! Starting a blog takes time and keeping up with it takes time as well! Being a student, I can imagine it might be hard to juggle time. I personally journal, and it has helped me keep track of my journey. You could always blog and just not publish it. That is a way you can have it for yourself and maybe publish later. Everyone's journey is unique, and there is always someone who might benefit from yours!

Writing is also a big part of blogging... seeing that it is a majority of writing. As a blogger, you have to find your voice on the big world wide web. Another option is you could write a guest post for our blog! This could give you a feel of what it takes? Let us know how else we can help you!


Anonymous said...

Like Caroline I figured it out early. My dad does HR for all the hospitals in our state, so he pushed me to volunteer at our local children's hospital when I turned 14. I ended up in the playroom under child life and fell in love! The teen program was cut after a year, but I was hooked and continued to look for ways to volunteer and researched child life like it was my job. I'm a freshman in college now, waiting to hear if I got into the child life program or not.

I love your blog! It's so informative and fun, and I'm sure will continue to be so helpful as I continue my child life journey!