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Child Life Program

The Activity Room | Patient Support & Education  | Procedural Preparation & Support | Supporting Child Life | Patient & Family Resources

Why Child Life?

Because hospital stays can be a difficult and stressful experience for children and adolescents, Child Life Services was established in Evanston in 1977 to help alleviate some of the anxieties of patients and families. Our Pediatric and Adolescent Unit located at Evanston Hospital serves patients as young as newborns and up to 21 years of age. The Child Life team collaborates with medical staff to positively affect every aspect of your child's treatment.

Child Life Services is designed to help you and your child during hospitalization. Our program is run by Child Life Specialists who are experts in infant, child, and adolescent development, who promote effective coping through play, education and self-expression activities. They provide emotional support for families and encourage optimal development of children and teens facing a broad range of challenging experiences, particularly related to healthcare and hospitalization.

Child Life Services are currently available in our Pediatric and Adolescent Inpatient Unit, Surgical Services, Radiology Department, Emergency Department, Infant Special Care Unit, Adult Intensive Care Unit and other areas upon referral.

Child Life’s Role in the Healthcare Team

Child Life Services work in partnership with doctors, nurses, social workers and others to meet the unique emotional and developmental needs of each child and family. Child Life Specialists focus on the psychosocial needs of patients, collaborating with parents and other members of the medical team to:

  • Ease a child/teen’s fear and anxiety with therapeutic and recreational activities
  • Encourage understanding and cooperation by providing preparation and support for children and their families undergoing tests, surgery, and other medical procedures
  • Provide procedural support and distraction techniques to enhance a child’s coping during invasive procedures
  • Advocate for family-centered care
  • Consider the needs of siblings who may also be affected by the illness or trauma
  • Support families confronting grief and bereavement issues
  • Provide education and resources for parents and members of the interdisciplinary team

Our Services

The Activity Room

Evanston Hospital has a beautiful activity room, offering games, books, puzzles, toys, movies and video games, available to patients and their families at all times. In addition, diversional and therapeutic activities such as crafts, medical art and baking are available when supervised by the Child Life staff. If your child is unable to leave his or her room, we can bring elements of the playroom to patient rooms.

We also encourage medical play, or play with a healthcare theme, and provide a medical play center in the activity room with X-rays, IVs, needle-less syringes and other pieces of real and play equipment. This provides children an opportunity to reverse roles and act out what has occurred during their treatment. This child-directed play can also be used by the Child Life Specialist to discover and address patients’ misconceptions, concerns and fantasies.

Our Pediatric Unit also has weekly visits from Open Heart Magic, holiday parties, and Pediatric Volunteers who further normalize the hospital experience for children and adolescents.

Patient Support & Education

People of all ages, especially children and adolescents, can feel overwhelmed or powerless in a hospital setting. Separation from friends and school, physical activity restrictions, invasive or uncomfortable procedures, and unfamiliar medical terminology can all create a sense of confusion. To help patients better adjust, Child Life plays a key role in guiding and helping patients both understand what is happening and find adaptive ways to cope.

Procedural Preparation & Support

To help children feel more at ease, our Child Life Specialists provide children and adolescents with the accurate, reassuring, age-appropriate explanations they need to understand what is going to happen and why. We use many outlets, including medical play, books, pictures and real medical equipment, to describe what will happen in advance of a procedure.

Before the procedure, we will meet with you and your child to develop a positive coping strategy that is tailored to your child. Whenever possible, Child Life encourages parents to be present with their child during a procedure. If a parent is unable to be present, Child Life staff is available to accompany patients to procedures.    

Supporting Child Life

The Child Life program at Evanston Hospital relies on the continued generous support from organizations and individual members of the community. While the Starlight Foundation, Child’s Play, and Sigma Sigma Sigma Foundation have helped us acquire some essential basic needs such as a playroom and teaching instruments, the fundamental day-to-day operation of our program is supported by donations from individuals and families of the community.

The NorthShore Child Life Services team welcomes kind donations and contributions from our community to keep our playroom filled with fun, creative, sensory experiences to encourage wonder and curiosity instead of anxiety and fear during their hospital stay.

Your donations allow us to normalize a patient’s environment by giving a sense of comfort and security during a moment of need, rewarding a child after a challenging procedure or helping kids still be kids during their hospitalization. We greatly appreciate donations of any kind, such as stuffed animals or toys (must be new, never used) or monetary donations that help us maintain a fun, therapeutic atmosphere on the Pediatric and Adolescent Unit.

Thank you for considering donating to make our pediatric patient's experience more positive, comfortable, and enjoyable. All donated items must be new. For any questions or to coordinate a donation drop off, please contact our Coordinator of Child Life Services, Katelyn Beyer, at or 847.570.2831.

For monetary contributions and how you can help us build awareness and raise funds for our Child Life Services team, please contact Kaitlin Czurylo, Director, Annual Giving at or 224.364.7607.

You can make an immediate difference by making an online donation through NorthShore Foundation or donate goods we need directly through our Amazon wishlist or our Target wishlist.

Volunteer With Us

Our Child Life program offers volunteering opportunities for students interested in Child Life or a healthcare related field. Our Pediatric volunteer program helps individuals gain hands-on experience working with patients and families on our unit by providing opportunities for play, bedside activities, and diversional opportunities with our patients. Please contact Katelyn Beyer, our Child Life Coordinator, for more details.

Meet the NorthShore Child Life Team!

For More Information

For more information on our child life program or other inquiries about donations, volunteer opportunities or our student program, please contact:

Katelyn Beyer, CCLS
Child Life Coordinator
847.570.0231 fax

Patient & Family Resources

Resources for patients and families to view when prepping them for various procedures.