Child life specialist helping youth cope with tragedy

Child Life Specialist
RescYou Fest 2022
Posted at 7:50 AM, Jun 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-24 09:31:52-04

Francesca Campbell was just 13 years old when she was diagnosed with an abdominal tumor.

She and her family headed to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis for treatment.

It was there that Campbell figured out her path in life.

"I had met a child life specialist at St. Jude and said, I want her job, she's awesome," Campbell said. "I moved back to Lafayette and got a job at a local children's hospital, and I worked there for about ten years in between peds and pediatric ICU."

Campbell said, while her job was full filling, there was something missing. She spent all of this time with families, kids, getting to know them, and prepare them for life after they leave this hospital. But she never got to see what happened once they left.

"At the hospital you have all of the resources and these people with knowledge and support and the ability to care for them in the facility" Campbell said. "Watching them leave and not knowing what support they're going to was the hardest part."

Then she heard about The RescYou Group.

"I called Reecie, the founder, and told her that I thought this would be a wonderful program," Campbell said. "Not all children pass away in a hospital and so they don't receive that immediate hospital support. Here at the rescue group, we can offer those resources immediately on the passing of a child."

These days she spends her time with the siblings of the children who have passed. Their parents get help from the RescYou Group and their children get a better understanding of what is coming in the days following the death of their brother or sister.

"Children are extremely adaptable and go straight to playing," Campbell said. "The outside may view the child as fine and coping well, but they're making up what happened in their own mind. They may not understand....we may say that your brother died because he was really sick, but in their minds, they view sick as the common cold or the flu. I'm here to educate them on the sickness that their brother and sister had and the common cold. We don't want them to have this lasting fear of sickness."

From a scared 13-year-old fighting for her life to a woman who is helping others understand tragedy and coping skills--this child specialist is doing what she can to be a calming force during a difficult time.