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Celebrating Child Life Month with CL Specialist Tracey Craddock

March is Child Life Month and the 40th anniversary of the Child Life Program at Geisinger. As we celebrate, we continue to provide facts and features on our Child Life staff.

After moving into the Children’s Hospital in the early 1990s, the need for other child life services such as preparation, medical play, and procedural support became more apparent. In addition to the program’s strong focus play, the staff worked to teach children various coping strategies and support them through procedures.

Today we feature Certified Child Life Specialist Tracey Craddock.

Hometown: Lake, WV

College: West Virginia University

Family: Mother and sister live in WV

Favorite food: Tacos

Favorite superhero:  Super Grover

Favorite book: Bridge to Terabithia

Favorite movie: The Mighty Ducks

Favorite game: Hand & Foot

Favorite TV show:  Cable Girls

When you aren’t working, how do you like to spend your time?
quilting, reading, traveling, going to concerts

Special talent or stupid human trick you may possess?
“I can recite Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

What made you want to be involved with the Child Life Department?
“I required eight surgeries before my tenth birthday, so I understood what it was like to be the patient. I understood that education was powerful and teaching kids what is going to happen during a healthcare experience, helping them cope with that is an amazing thing.

What is your favorite part of what you do?
“Helping a kid get through something tough they didn’t think they could do.”

Tell me a unique story or something that was very touching for you personally while performing your job?
“Unfortunately, in our jobs, not every story has a happy ending. I was part of our hospital’s Remembrance Service one year and a parent came up to me. I remembered her daughter as a patient with multiple special needs who was nonverbal. I would check on them daily in the hospital. I didn’t feel I could offer a lot in the traditional sense of play and education, but I would still check in, making sure the patient was comfortable and that the mother didn’t have any needs. At the Remembrance Service, the mother said to me, ‘Once when we were in the hospital, I told you the hospital toothbrush was too rough on my daughter’s gums. You found us another toothbrush. I can’t bring myself to get rid of that toothbrush.’ I didn’t remember giving this family a toothbrush, but it truly shows that the smallest kindness can mean the most.”

How donations to Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger helped you to perform your job?
“Donations to CMN help provide educational tools which allow me to break down the complicated hospital environment into simple terms. I can use a special doll purchased with donations to help prepare a child for an IV so the patient knows what to expect. I can then use a distraction tool (a book, a light spinner, a toy) also purchased with donations to help distract that patient during the IV.”