East Tennessee Children's Hospital programs benefit from DWTKS

East Tennessee Children's Hospital programs to benefit from Dancing With the Knoxville Stars

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Child Life Specialist Anna Taylor was by Malachi Penman's side, helping take away his anxiety by allowing him to do the very thing kids are best at: play. Child Life Specialist Anna Taylor was by Malachi Penman's side, helping take away his anxiety by allowing him to do the very thing kids are best at: play.
"Playing a game or looking through a book or playing on the iPad. It just takes their mind off what they're getting done," said Anna Taylor. "Playing a game or looking through a book or playing on the iPad. It just takes their mind off what they're getting done," said Anna Taylor.
Child Life Specialist Tiffany Smith works with a little girl. Child Life Specialist Tiffany Smith works with a little girl.
"We really appreciate what they do because our job is not easy, and they make our job so much better," said phlebotomist Amber Edmiston. "We really appreciate what they do because our job is not easy, and they make our job so much better," said phlebotomist Amber Edmiston.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The sixth annual "Dancing With the Knoxville Stars" competition is now just three weeks away.

It's one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for East Tennessee Children's Hospital, and as always 6 News is taking part. 

If you're thinking about donating, we wanted to show you what your donation is going towards, including a special program to make sure their young patients are as comfortable as possible.

Malachi Penman, 11, is a Leukemia patient at East Tennessee Children's Hospital. Even though he's been here countless times over the course of his treatment, the fear over getting pricked never goes away.

"I don't like needles at all. I do not like needles. I get scared around them," said Malachi.

However, during this set of blood work, his attention was anywhere but on those dreaded needles. That's because Child Life Specialist Anna Taylor was by his side, helping take away his anxiety by allowing him to do the very thing kids are best at: play.

"Playing a game or looking through a book or playing on the iPad. It just takes their mind off what they're getting done," said Taylor.

The Child Life program at East Tennessee Children's Hospital is about taking the fear out of what can be a scary and unfamiliar experience.

These specialists are here the second a child gets afraid, helping them understand what's happening by explaining the procedures they're about to get. It makes it easier for them.

"Children, if they just know and understand what's going to happen, they tend to do better during the procedure," said Child Life Specialist Tiffany Smith.

"We really appreciate what they do because our job is not easy, and they make our job so much better," said phlebotomist Amber Edmiston.

The difference Child Life creates in the hospital setting is so much that patients like 6-year-old Isabelle's parents say she practically looks forward now to her twice-monthly chemo treatments, anxious to play and see the people who have become like friends.

"She distracts Isabelle. She makes her feel comfortable and happy and forget about the fear of getting accessed," said Erika Helle, Isabelle's mother.

The goal is to make sure that while these children have to be at the hospital.

"When they're here, there's a lot of stuff being done to them that they don't get to choose. Things they have to get done, where they don't have a choice. I can let them have a choice in other things, like in what craft they want to play or what game they want to do so I can give them control so that they feel that they have control and have a choice," said Taylor.

It's as fun and stress-free a place as possible.

"I like the hospital because it's fun and I just enjoy it," said Malachi.

There are 15 Child Life specialists at Children's Hospital who work in every wing at the hospital.

If you'd like to donate to Dancing With the Knoxville Stars to raise money for East Tennessee Children's Hospital, click here. 6 News Reporter Hayley Harmon is one of the celebrity dancers this year.

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