About Child Life

Members of our child life staff hold advanced-degree training in the growth and development of children. They provide age-appropriate information to help children cope with the hospital and prepare them emotionally for invasive procedures and surgery. Techniques include diagnosis-specific education, medical play and psychological preparation. University students from across the United States seek out the child life clinical training program at Children's, and staff members have helped develop similar programs across the nation.


Explaining Procedures

Children want to know where a heart comes from for a heart transplant and how their sibling "caught" cancer and if it's contagious. Child life specialists explain procedures in terms patients and their siblings understand. Specialists engage children in medical play, showing them how to give a teddy bear an injection or listen to its heart with a play stethoscope.


Child life specialists work with patients to help them adapt to their surroundings. They can be found playing with children in the playrooms or helping create an artistic masterpiece with glitter and glue. Older patients enjoy a game of pool or a lesson on the computer. 

Hospital Contact

Thresa Belcher, LCSW - Director of Child Life and Social Work


Annie Akin, CCLS- Emergency Services
Gabby Alvarado- PRN Child Life Assistant
Amanda Ammons, MS, CCLS- ARCH Clinic
Michelle Anderson, CCLS- Emergency Services
Kelly Ballagh- Funnyatrics
Bob Barraza- Funnyatrics
Eric Binkowski- Funnyatrics
Ashley Brady, MS, CCLS- Surgery/Radiology
Lauren Braun- Child Life Assistant
Renee Caskey, CCLS, CIMI, CPST- Neonatal ICU
Kelsey Champion, MS, CCLS- Child Life Fellow
Caitlin Creasey- Hematology/Oncology Outpatient Clinic
Kimberly Crews, CCLS- GI/GI Clinic
Annie Cross, MMEd, MT-BC- Music Therapy
Ruthie Davis, MA, CCLS- Bone Marrow Transplant
Maria De Leon- PRN Child Life Assistant
Heather Dilling- PRN Child Life Assistant
Whitney Dubuisson, CCLS- Inpatient Oncology
Melanie Elliott, CCLS- Solid Organ Transplant Program
Ally Ferrell- Child Life Assistant
Amy Garcia, MS, CCLS- Inpatient Surgery/ICU
Melinda Goff, MS, CCLS- Team Supervisor
Irene Gomez- PRN Child Life Assistant
Stephanie Haynes, CCLS- Trauma
Gloria Hernandez- Senior Administrative Assistant
Taylor Hobbs, CCLS- Hemodialysis
Sandra Howard- PRN Child Life Specialist
Kristen Johnson, MS, CCLS- Child Life Manager
Lisa Jones, MA, MT-BC- Therapeutic Arts Supervisor 
Cristina Judah- Child Life Assistant
Christine Knefley, MS, CCLS- Inpatient Surgery/ICU
Melodee Lenz- Funnyatrics
Brea Lewis- Child Life Assistant
Brenda Marshall- Funnyatrics
Erin McKinney, CCLS- Renal
Michelle McLemore, CCLS- Oncology/General Pediatrics, Legacy Campus
Cecilia Mendiola, MS, CCLS- Ortho Clinic/Pavilion
Dick Monday- Funnyatrics
Kara Morrison, CCLS- Pulmonary/Cystic Fibrosis
Robyn Nix, MS- PRN Child Life Specialist
Karen Norris, MS, MT-BC- Music Therapy
Shawn Patrello- Funnyatrics
Sheridan Riles- Special Events and Art Program Coordinator
Chelsea Riley, MS, CCLS- Cardiology/CVICU/Cardiology Clinic
Tiffany Riley- Funnyatrics
Jennifer Roady, CCLS- Neurosurgery
Lauryn Shackelford- Child Life Assistant
Keath Shields- Child Life Assistant
Erica Smith, MS, CCLS- PICU
Helen Sterrett- PRN Child Life Specialist
Krista Stringer, MS, CCLS- Team Supervisor/Education Coordinator/Surgery
Lauren Suttle, CCLS- Neuro-Oncology/Neurology
Jessica Ventura, MS,CCLS- Cardiology/CVICU/Cardiology Clinic
Crystal Wilkins, CCLS- Emergency Services
Meghan Wilmer, MS, CCLS- Surgery/Radiology
Shannon Wilson, MA, MT-BC- Music Therapist
Ashley Winkleblack, CCLS- Endocrine/General Pediatrics
Barbara Yu- Child Life Assistant, Legacy campus