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Training for Child Life specialists in Kenia

Karin van Gils and Simone Kuipers, Child Life Specialists, took a new step in outreach: a two-day Introduction to Child Life training.

It was a two-day 'Introduction to Child Life' training with over 60 participants in Eldoret. After more than 10 years of training the Child Life team at MTRH/Shoe4Africa Children's Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya, the beginning of May was a highlight for Karin van Gils and Simone Kuipers. They call it ‘a great new step in the collaboration with the Kenyan Child Life team led by Elizabeth Kabuthi’. In the picture you can see two 'Mzungus' among the African participants: Karin and Simone. 

Two-day training 

‘We think it is a good development that more and more attention is being paid in African countries to the importance of psychosocial counseling for children in hospitals. The priority is medical care and the knowledge is lacking yet. But the MTRH/Shoe4Africa Children's Hospital is a good exception. They are one of the few hospitals that have a child life program,’ says Karin van Gils. The two-day training she and Simone Kuipers conducted was well received, with more than 60 participants from various cities in Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and the USA. Simone says: ‘It was a very mixed group of psychosocial workers, but also doctors and pediatric nurses. We had many topics on the agenda: the importance of psychosocial counseling for children in the hospital, the role of the Child Life Specialist, preparation and supervision of medical procedures, supportive language and palliative care for children.’ 

Sustainable implementation 

Karin: ‘It was very nice to see the Kenyan colleagues presenting with dedication, which made me very proud after years of working together. The training went well and there was a good atmosphere. The participants went home happy and enthusiastic, which gave us a lot of energy! Someone wrote: ‘Thank you so much to the facilitators. The training was so enlightening. We promise to implement the skills’. Simone adds: ‘The next step is implementation in the (regional) hospitals and follow-up. In the coming period, we will be working on this with the Child Life team in Eldoret. The nice thing is that the participants have created their own Whatsapp group! The training will be continued annually in different regions of Kenya to have the widest possible reach. They will also work on spreading the knowledge and experience gained. For example, by offering internships. This is an important step towards sustainable local implementation.’