Child Life Discover

Summer 2015
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Child Life and Creative Arts Palliative Care

Sarah Yazdian, Art Therapist, provides stellar services in the palliative care unit here at Mount Sinai Hospital. Art therapy is offered to patients and families who are receiving palliative care. Art therapy is the therapeutic use of art making, within a professional relationship, by people who experience illness, trauma, or challenges in living, and by people who seek personal development. Art experiences support various challenges that palliative care patients may experience, including isolation, loss, limited mobility, control, symptom management, and anticipatory grief. Personal symbols, metaphor and the imagination are engaged during an art therapy session, allowing patients and families an alternate avenue of expression and legacy building. Creative work may also offer respite for caregivers. Allowing caregivers an opportunity to do something personal and separate may facilitate psychological coping and introduce self-care practices.

Young children of patients may also be referred to the art therapist to support coping with loss. Sarah Yazdian is dually trained as an Art Therapist as well as a Child Life Specialist and is able to provide psycho-education and developmentally appropriate interventions that prepare children for various stages of illness, dying, death. Art is used to help children feel connected to their ill family member, and make a hospital visit less intimidating. Grief journals, family hand printing, and family drawings may aid children in their efforts to cope.

Artwork done by a family member of a patient in the Palliative Care Unit

KidZone TV Hosts Open Studio

KidZone TV’s (KZTV) Open Studio is a dedicated time that gives patients and families a chance to see all the behind the scenes action of a live KZTV show. Patients enter the studio before a live show and can participate in either show production or themed activities and crafts along side the production. Themes range from cooking to music to arts and crafts and allow patients to engage in what they enjoy the most. Kids can control the behind the scenes work, including camera and sound management, or they can choose to host the live show. Participants are also empowered to create their own videos, help build content for live shows, and to be a part of the broadcast team

Open Studio allows for patients to be exposed to the KZTV broadcast studio that they would not otherwise have open access to. They are able to move freely and explore the space while getting acquainted with our staff and our equipment. Furthermore, the format of Open Studio encourages community building among patients to work creatively together and to combat the isolation they may feel in their rooms.

Patient Michelle Izzo, Art Therapist Kate McIntosh, and Mom Fortunata Izzo (Left) create artwork in an Open Studio session. Patient Gabriela Rosales and Child Life Assistant Ali Spike (Right) work and play together on the brand new touch screen
in the KZTV studio.


New Child Life Pilot in the Dialysis Clinic


The process of dialysis, as described by an adolescent patient, is “tedious.” In April of this year, the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department advanced the standard of multidisciplinary care in pediatric dialysis by introducing Child Life Specialists and Creative Arts Therapists’ support throughout the week. As patients receive the clinical, measured attention of a medical team, Child Life and Creative Arts Therapists simultaneously grant an outlet for their emotional response to treatment. Using distraction, developmentally-appropriate explanation, and expressive modalities, members of our department provide the necessary space to reflect and thrive while receiving dialysis, a process that can take upwards of four hours. Patients and families have responded very positively to Child Life and Creative Arts’ presence in the clinic and our department looks forward to helping many more patients and families cope in this space.

Child Life Summer Volunteer Program Off to a Great Start

June marked the start of the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department’s robust summer volunteer program! With the addition of 30 new adult and high school volunteers this summer, pediatric patients and families have extended opportunities to engage in play and art activities in their rooms, playrooms, and waiting areas throughout the hospital. In addition to working directly with our pediatric population, this talented and dedicated group of volunteers offers vital departmental support through toy cleaning, environmental enhancement, and other essential tasks. In total, this group generously donates approximately 225 hours of service each week and has made significant contributions to our hospital’s community. Cheryl Strauss, the department’s volunteer coordinator, praises the remarkable efforts of this “special team of individuals whose collective work ethic has given rise to countless smiles, laughs, and expressions of gratitude.”

Five of our fabulous volunteers take a break from their busy volunteering schedules
Staff Additions, Accomplishments and Updates


 Please join us in welcoming three wonderful new additions to our Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy team, Tracy Rosenblatt, Ali Spike, and Mathea Jacobs (left to right).

Tracy Rosenblatt joined the team in June as a Child Life Specialist I. She will be working in the general pediatrics clinic on weekdays, as well as covering the inpatient units and the Zone on Saturdays. Tracy recently graduated from Bank Street College of Education, and is so excited to begin her first job as a CLS!

Ali Spike is our new Child Life Assistant in the evenings. She helps provide evening programming both in the Zone and on the inpatient units. Starting in the fall, Ali will begin her Child Life Internship here at Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai. In her off time, Ali is a child life student at Bank Street and a preschool teacher in the mornings.

Mathea Jacobs is our new KidZone TV manager. She helps run our live TV shows for pediatric population as well as work on video projects with patients in the hospital. In her spare time, Mathea loves to travel and hike. She is also passionate about films, music, and television.



Diane Rode, Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department Director, coordinated and facilitated multiple national trainings in the spring, including Child Life Council’s Webinar on Clinical Supervision in Child Life, a Clinical Supervision Intensive at MD Anderson, and a two day training at UCSF on Live Broadcast and Video Therapy in Child Life Programming.

Lauren Smith, Art Therapist, presented at the 2015 American Art Therapy Association national conference in Minneapolis. Her presentation is entitled "The Fiber-Based Narrative Art Therapy intervention: A Neurobiological and Sociocultural Framework for Treating Trauma". She will also presenting at the United States Society for Arts and Education's conference in New York City entitled "Monsters or Dreamchasers: Youth & Media in Community Art Practice".

Sarah Yazdian, Art Therapist and Child Life Specialist and Lauren Smith, Art Therapist presented at the 2015 American Art Therapy Association national conference in Minneapolis. Their presentation is entitled “Shaping the "Unshapeable": Pediatric Hematology/Oncology 3D Narratives of Self”. Sarah and Lauren were also selected to receive a grant from the Zitwer Foundations to help fund “Healing through Hands: Creating a Weaving Program in Pediatrics”.

Angela Koeneker, Toshiko Nonaka, Child Life Specialists, and Leigh Penner, Social Worker, were selected to present their poster at the Child Life of Greater New York Conference. Their poster highlights their work on the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit’s weekly parent coffee talk support group.


Morgan Stojanowski, Jamie Siegel, Child Life Specialists and Lu Borges Child Life Technology Coordinator, have been selected to present at the Child Life of Greater New York Conference in the Fall.

They will present "Speaking their iLanguage; Creating innovative and relevant diagnostic teaching tools that speak to today's patient" where they will teach child life specialist about creating modern teaching tools for pediatric patients.


Lu Borges Child Life Technology Coordinator, was selected to create an online lecture for the University of California Santa Barbara / 2015 Child Life Extension Program. "The Role of a Technology Program within a Child Life Department" will inform students in Child Life about the appropriate use of tech in the field.

Todd O’Connor, Music Therapist presented to the Adult Palliative Care team about the Use of Music Therapy with adult palliative care patients and families. Todd was joined by Joanne Loewy, the director of the Loewy Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine at Beth Israel Hospital.

Gabriela Ortiz, Music Therapist, will be presenting at the Expressive Therapies Summit on the topic, "Music therapy as Procedural Support with Pediatric Patients". She will be co-presenting with Angel Park, LCAT, MS, MT-BC from Bellevue Hospital. Gabriela was also selected to receive a grant from the Zitwer Foundation to help with “Musical Tunes in the Emergency Room”.

KidZone TV was also selected to receive a grant from the Zitwer Foundation to help with Fun Hats for Seasons and Special Events.


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The Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department
Kravis Children's Hospital at Mount Sinai
One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1153
New York, NY 10029