Your life: The Children's Center: There is healing in this sacred place

Charlotte Lankard: Whether it is saying goodbye as a child leaves with parents to go home or helping the family say goodbye to a child who cannot be cured, there is healing that happens in this sacred place.
CHARLOTTE LANKARD clankardl@opubco.com Published: April 2, 2012
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The Children's Center in Bethany is a hospital dedicated to helping children with complex medical and physical disabilities.

On a recent visit, we met Mindy Cash, a special-education teacher. She has been there for eight years, believing she can make a significant impact on the children with whom she works.

“Even more exciting, “she says, “is the impact the children make on me. They teach me more about life than anything else. It is their smiles, giggles, hugs and achievements that keep me coming back.”In Mindy's classroom, we waited as a toddler struggled to say a word. With great patience, a soft voice and a warm smile, Mindy gave encouragement. When the word was finally spoken, we all applauded.

Licensed practical nurse Joe Marbell has worked there since 2001. Albert Gray, CEO of The Children's Center, describes Joe as “compassionate and amazing with kids.”

Marbell says of his fellow workers, “There is a kind of closeness among the staff that confirms for me this place is truly special.”

Justin, 13, a patient, told me, “When I grow up I want to work here.”

Hanging on one wall is a picture of a tree, a therapy project painted by patients in the Pediatric Medical Rehabilitation Unit. One side is barren, which symbolizes trauma, which the children describe as drained, helpless, numb, scared, tired, pain, anxious, silence, wait, hopeless, hurt, angry, sad. The other side is vibrant and green and symbolizes healing, which the children describe as love, fun, joy, music, friends, getting better, feeling, life, family, smile, faith, sunshine, healing, laughter, hope, one day at a time. The picture of the tree reminded me of the words written by a friend: