Winning smiles: Photo buttons help children see the happy faces of their caregivers
The team at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma has found a way to show their winning smiles to children who come for care. Behavioral health and medical professionals caring for them are wearing photo buttons that show the face behind the mask.
“We think it’s really important that kids and families know that we can still talk, that we can still laugh and that we can still smile underneath our masks,” says Julie Hertzog, Child Life Supervisor at Mary Bridge Children’s.
Even in so-called ‘normal’ times, a child can be pretty stressed about going to a clinic or hospital. For one thing, the child has likely never met some of these people before.
One way you can make a child comfortable is to smile at them. Now the caregivers wear two smiles — one on their face, cloaked by a mask, but also on a prominent button with the caregiver’s picture.
The “Under This Mask is a Helper” program, developed by Ashley Mangum, MSW, LICSW, a Mary Bridge Children's social worker, uses buttons at check-in, during examinations or in the hospital to display the smiling faces of the behavioral health and medical professionals caring for each child. The program is designed to help the child feel more comfortable about the person in front of them.
The buttons are being donated by Kids' Mental Health Pierce County (KMHPC). The buttons are made by a small business in the Carbonado area called Becka Makes Buttons.
“Going to the doctor can be stressful, especially for kids. We know that,” Hertzog says. “We want kids to feel safe and comfortable while they’re here.”
Watch the video below to learn more about the program and see the buttons in action.