Child life specialists at Riley provide patients with treatment far beyond surgery

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. --  At first glance, it looks like a typical play room. But it’s actually the Child Life Zone at Riley Hospital for Children.

It’s a place Child Life Supervisor Abigail Rainey knows all too well. Born a quadruplet and premature, Rainey and her sisters spent more than a month in Riley’s NICU

These days, it’s a place where she helps others, teaching them about what comes next in their treatment.

“We’re asking kids to do things that are hard and unfamiliar to them, so we try to get them to become a little more familiar with what’s going to happen here,” Rainey said.

Like preparing patients such as 4-year-old Kennedy Strayer who has already been through three heart surgeries.

“You can’t tell a kid they’re going to go under anesthesia, they don’t know what that means. But they show them the mask, they put stickers on the mask, they let them pick a scent because the gas has a smell,” explained mom Heather Strayer.

With only 28 specialists on staff, there are some patients Rainey says they just can’t get to.

“We can’t leave the hospital with them. We can’t continue to help them once they leave the hospital. But we can give them skills and tools that they can use wherever they go in life after they leave these doors."

Child life specialists are funded entirely through grant and donations.

This spring, our Alexa Green will take part in the annual celebrity dance competition to support Riley Hospital for Children.

The ballroom dance competition is called Reason to Dance, Reason for Hope and will be held on March 8 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis.

All proceeds raised will go to Riley Hospital for Children.

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