Krista Ward did not plan on becoming a Child Life Specialist. In college, she was studying to be a teacher. After volunteering at Riley, however, she says that she fell in love with the profession and soon changed her major to child development and family studies.

Krista spends her days at work making Riley patients as comfortable as possible and relieving their stress during their stay in the hospital.  This includes preparing them for procedures by answering their questions and explaining upcoming surgeries or procedures through pictures and the use of medical equipment. She also works with the kids during any procedures that are invasive or painful, providing them distraction through iPads, books, bubbles, and other things to redirect their attention.

Child Life Specialists strive to make the children’s lives during their stay at Riley as normal as possible. Each day, the children have opportunities to engage in activities to promote socialization and to simply allow them to be kids, such as art, crafts, and music. The specialists also plan events and parties, whether to celebrate holidays or to have special guests, including Pacers and Colts players, come in to interact with the patients. The goal for the Child Life Specialists is to make sure the patients are kids first, and that their diagnoses come second.

Krista must have a very flexible schedule to tend to any needs that come up with the patients and to work around their procedures. Still, each child is seen every day. Krista is busy but says that she loves Riley and would not want to be anywhere else. She is able to help the children and their families to cope with the most stressful times in their lives Spending time with them allows her to create bonds, and she finds her work is extremely rewarding.

By: Emily Nelson