Celebrating Child Life Month

- Posted by Project-Sunshine Info in | 3 min read
Celebrating Child Life Month

In celebration of Child Life Month, we are honoured to highlight a remarkable Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) Jocelyn Leworthy, who is also a valued member of our Board. As a CCLS, Jocelyn brings dedication, compassion, and expertise to her role, enriching the lives of children, youth, and families facing challenging circumstances. To learn more about her work and personal journey, dive into our exclusive interview:

1. What does a Certified Child Life Specialist do?
Certified Child Life Specialists provide evidence-based developmentally appropriate psychosocial support to children and families facing stressful life experiences. Child Life Specialists use play-based education, preparation, and diversion to promote coping as well as creative and expressive interventions to reduce stress, anxiety, and pain.

2. Why did you decide to become a Certified Child Life Specialist?
I always knew that I wanted to work with children and adolescents, but I wasn’t certain in what capacity. I have been so fortunate to have positive adult role models in my life such as incredible teachers that inspired me. I knew that education, mental health, and medicine were potential avenues for me, so when I heard about Child Life, I felt that this field was perfect. I also realized that I would’ve benefitted from this profession myself growing up since I have a rare genetic medical condition that impacts my appearance and vision. Having experienced looking and functioning differently than my peers, I relate to the many challenges that my patients do. It’s rewarding to help children discover their strengths and abilities to cope with such things.
3. What was your journey like becoming a Certified Child Life Specialist?
My journey to become a CCLS was unique, fun, and a lot of work. I completed my undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Studies from the University of Guelph-Humber, the Child Life Studies certificate program through UC Santa Barbara, and earned my Master of Science in Child Life & Pediatric Psychosocial Care from McMaster University. I also engaged in volunteer work at a children’s hospital, a local children’s grief & bereavement organization, and worked in childcare and community recreation programs. Prior to the certification exam, I pursued my Child Life internship with Morgan Livingstone’s community practice where I had memorable experiences working with children and families in their homes.
4. What is a common misconception about your role that you would like to set straight?

I think there are many misconceptions about my role, but one that stands out to me is that the primary modality I use to support kids is seen by others as “just play.” Play serves many purposes in my work. Play is the language and work of children. Play is used to help kids learn about their healthcare and life experiences - it is how they connect, learn, process, express and cope.

5. Is there a pivotal or stand-out moment in your career that you often reflect on? This could be a specific patient interaction, career growth, etc.
I find it heartwarming to see children and families utilize the skills we have worked on developing together to help them manage a difficult experience or procedure they didn’t think they could navigate. One of my favourite moments took place in the Operating Room with a child and her mom. I hadn’t had much of an opportunity to get to know her beforehand as I often do with kids I meet in the pre-surgery clinic. Upon meeting the morning of her surgery, she noticed my Taylor Swift scrub cap and we connected immediately. As she was getting ready to go to sleep with the anesthesia mask, her mom, myself, and all the staff in the room sang her favourite Taylor Swift song. When she was in recovery, her mom and I continued the song where we left off before she had drifted off to sleep. Taking time to connect with kids can go a long way.
6. How did you become involved with Project Sunshine Canada?

As a Child Life Specialist, I have had the honour to see first-hand how Project Sunshine programs positively impact children and families. After many opportunities experiencing the programming in my work, my colleague (a former board member) encouraged me to consider taking on a leadership role with the organization. Ever since I joined, I have loved sharing my expertise as a frontline CLS while also giving back and supporting Project Sunshine Canada.

7. Play is an important aspect in both the Certified Child Life Specialist’s role and the mission of Project Sunshine Canada - as an adult and CCLS, what is your favourite way to play and reduce stress personally?
As an adult and CCLS, I play in many ways to reduce stress. I am a huge Swiftie so spending time with my favourite people making friendship bracelets, singing/dancing to Taylor Swift, and travelling to see her in concert top the list these days.