Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Honors Texas Child Life Specialist for Her Support of Children
March 15, 2023
Salt Lake City, Utah – In honor of her dedication to change kids’ health for patients in Texas, Kaitlyn Lavery Schenk is being recognized by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and national corporate partner Ace Hardware with the 2023 Child Life Specialist of the Year award. This recognition is part of the celebration of Child Life Month in March.
Schenk got her start as a child life specialist in 2021. Her impact at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, a member hospital of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, reaches far and wide. She not only supports the patients and families treated in her unit but throughout the hospital, the city, and even throughout the state.
“Kaitlyn brings such light to the patients and families she serves at our hospital,” said Lyndsey Paulson, Director of Child Life and Volunteer Services, at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. “She is calm under stress and is able to meet families where they are in order to serve them best. I am thankful that she chooses to share her servant's heart with all of us.”
In May 2022, when the tragic school shooting in Uvalde happened, Schenk was quick to support. Schenk and other Associates went to Uvalde Memorial Hospital and provided a safe space for their staff and children to express their feelings related to the trauma they had just experienced. Schenk prepared therapeutic activities for adults and children, put together educational resources for parents and caregivers on developmentally appropriate responses to trauma and death, and supported them in any other ways she could.
Schenk is frequently recognized by her peers for the compassionate care and creative legacy building she provides during end of life. She is passionate about serving patients with sensory needs or behavioral health concerns. Recently, she visited the local behavioral health facilities to learn about their admission processes in order to create preparation books that can be shared with families prior to discharge from the hospital. Schenk is working on creating a sensory-friendly room in the emergency department to best serve her patients.
Child life specialists like Schenk support the emotional and mental health needs of young, hospitalized patients and their families with programs that bring comfort, joy, and a sense of normalcy. These programs include art therapy, music therapy, pet therapy, play activities, and comfort toys and tools.
Funds raised by partners like Ace Hardware help support many areas of local member hospitals of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Ace Hardware is known as the helpful place – retailers are hard-working, local, and loyal, just like child life specialists.
“The Ace team is incredibly proud of Kaitlyn and the amazing work she does to support children and families at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio,” said Kane Calamari, President Ace Hardware Foundation. “Child life specialists play a critical role in supporting patients and families at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals across the country. Congratulations, Kaitlyn!”
In celebration of Child Life Month, Ace Hardware with support from vendor Benjamin Moore, in partnership with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, is proud to be presenting the Child Life Specialist of the Year award to honor the hard work, compassion, and generous spirit of child life specialists like Schenk and to bring awareness to the need for child life funding at local member children’s hospitals. A $20,000 donation from the Ace Hardware Foundation will be given to The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio in Schenk’s name to be used unrestrictedly.
Philanthropy is essential to fund construction, innovative programs, and equipment purchases at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. Because of donations, physicians, nurses, and clinical teams continue to deliver the highest quality of medical care for pediatric patients. Donations restricted to Child Life help fund salaries, music therapy, the facility dog, supplies for medical play and distraction, holiday activities, and our Child Life Zone.
“Congratulations to the 2023 Child Life Specialist of the Year award recipient Kaitlyn Lavery Schenk,” said Teri Nestel, President & CEO of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. “We’re so grateful to partners like Ace Hardware who help make sure funding to local member hospitals can support child life departments and the invaluable care they provide to patients and families.”
Visit cmnhospitals.org to learn more about how Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and its network supports the health of 10 million kids each year. Donations go to local hospitals to fund life-saving treatments, innovative research, vital medical equipment, child life services and financial assistance for kids and families. Together, we can change kids’ health. Together, we can change the future.