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Texas Children’s Hospital

Child Life Specialists Illuminate the Holiday Season

As the holiday season approaches, Texas Children’s Hospital radiates warmth and community spirit. Beyond the dazzling decorations, our dedicated Child Life specialists and all employees go above and beyond to bring joy to our patients and families.

The Magic Makers: How Child Life Specialists Craft Memorable Experiences

At the heart of the holiday experience at Texas Children’s is our extraordinary team of Child Life specialists. They bring their expertise to the forefront during the holidays and ensure the magic of the season reaches every child.

“Some patients may feel excluded from all of the holiday festivities going on outside of the hospital,” says Deysi Barron, Child Life Program Support Coordinator. “By bringing the holiday spirit to them, we create a feeling of normalcy and bring some of the excitement and wonder to their childhood.”

Deysi is pictured on the right with volunteers at this year’s Tree Farm event.

Deysi has worked at Texas Children’s for 10 years. She and our team of Child Life specialists help to facilitate bedside Santa Visits and host whimsical events in The Zone, our inpatient activity room. Child Life specialists are also on hand to support young patients during our Tree Farm event; a volunteer-supported initiative allowing patients to choose from 200 creatively designed 3-foot trees and bring a bit of holiday cheer directly into their rooms.

Deysi recalls a heartwarming moment with a young Houston Astros fan. He had been our patient for an extensive period. Often unable to leave his room, he was sad he would not be with his family to put up their Christmas tree.

On the day of the Tree Farm, the child chose the Astros-themed Christmas tree. Thinking it was meant just for him, Deysi says he couldn’t stop talking about it. “His mother said he hadn’t smiled like that in a long time. She was so moved seeing her son so happy,” she recalls adding:

“At the end of the day, that is why we do what we do.”

Texas Children’s Employees as Santa’s Helpers Bring Joy to Patients

Our child life specialists aren’t the only members of Texas Children’s One Amazing Team who help make the holidays at our hospitals magical.

During an initiative we call Candy Cane Lane, generous Houston communities donate enough toys to fill our hospital’s largest conference room. Enthusiastic employees, most of whom do not get to interact with patients every day, volunteer each year to fulfill Candy Cane Wishes. They handpick toys from Candy Cane Lane and distribute about 600 bags of special gifts for our patients and their siblings.

This personalized touch ensures that every child under our care feels the spirit of the season. For Kaitlyn Chana, Practice Administrator for Psychology, fulfilling Candy Cane Wishes is a treasured experience.

Kaitlyn is pictured on the top left, along with other Candy Cane Lane volunteers.

“When you’re volunteering, you experience the magic of laughter and authentic joy as this child forgets about where they are and is transported into a state of excitement. The difference I made when volunteering puts things into perspective. It reminds me to use that same energy every day and think about the difference I can make when advocating for patients and families in my professional role.”

Texas Children’s Teamwork Makes Children’s Holiday Dreams Come True

“It takes many hands to see a project through to completion,” says Deysi. “Our Community Benefits and Volunteer Services teams, together with Child Life, contributes to Texas Children’s ability to provide meaningful and successful events to our patients and families.” As leader of Texas Children’s holiday event calendar, Community Benefits Project Manager Shazia Arroyo coordinates visits to the hospital from community organizations, volunteers and multiple Santas. She sees and helps to plan everything that happens behind the scenes to orchestrate memorable experiences for patients, families, and our employees during the holidays, a continuous effort that begins as soon as the previous year’s festivities end.

“It’s like that scene in the movie Elf,” Shazia chuckles. “Now it’s time to start preparations for next Christmas!”

Just as Santa and his team of dedicated elves work tirelessly all year long to spread joy, the heartwarming stories that unfold at Texas Children’s during the holiday season are made possible by the tireless leadership, care, and compassion of our exceptional team of employees. Without them, the holidays at Texas Children’s wouldn’t be the same.

Join Our Diverse Team – Be the Difference

At Texas Children’s, our core values shape our workplace culture and define our approach to patient care. As we celebrate the magic of the holidays, we invite you to Be the Difference in the lives of our children and families. Join a team that embraces freedom, leads tirelessly, lives compassionately, and amplifies unity. Together, we will continue conjuring moments of magic and making a lasting impact on the lives of those we serve.