At the heart of Child Life and Recreational Therapy is play. The work of those in the field of Child Life is focused on using different types of play to reduce fear and anxiety for children and their family members facing stressful circumstances, especially caused by chronic illness.

From a Child Life standpoint, play can be used to provide normalization and social activities, have a therapeutic basis to assist with processing negative thoughts and feelings, or be medical in nature to allow for exploration of real or pretend medical equipment to aid in the understanding of illness and treatment.

Recreational Therapy utilizes a child’s play and leisure interests to promote independence as well as self-esteem. Those in the field of Recreational Therapy aim to assist those with physical or cognitive limitations identify and participate in adaptive activities that restore a level of functioning and promote health and wellness.

For more information on Child Life, please visit
For more information on Recreational Therapy, please visit
For other information, contact Betsy Hawley at

Note: When utilizing any of the play activities available in the Creative Expressions Toolkit, please be advised that these resources do not take the place of actual Child Life or Recreational Therapy interventions. These resources were developed by a Child Life Specialist and Recreational Therapist to promote developmentally appropriate play activities for children with chronic illness in the home and community settings. If you have any questions about these activities, please contact your child’s health care provider.

384 Fox Chapel Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15238 | Contact Betsy Hawley at:

PPCC is not a health care provider and does not give medical advice or treatment. PPCC does not endorse or recommend any listed facilities, service providers, or support groups herein. PPCC offers the list and information as a resource only. PPCC does not pre-evaluate, or consider the Medicare/Medicaid status of the providers.

The Pediatric Palliative Care Coalition is a registered 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization.  Donations are tax-deductible according to the IRS’s rules and regulations.  The official registration and financial information for PPCC may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll-free within Pennsylvania 1-800-732-0999.