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From Child Life Specialist to JoyRx Director: Q&A Spotlight with Allison Moore

Helping children feel Joy in challenging moments has been Allison Moore’s focus even before becoming JoyRx’s Director of Programs, South. Before joining JoyRx, Allison was a child life specialist at Dell Children’s Comprehensive Care (CCC), where she helped children understand the process of their treatment at the clinic.

Allison has a unique perspective on what JoyRx does for families in need because she’s seen it from both sides — working with JoyRx and now working for JoyRx.

Check out the Q&A session we had with Allison and learn more about her insights on the role JoyRx plays for seriously ill children.

What was your job like working as a child life specialist?

My job was to frame the healthcare experience from the perspective of the child — to use my child development knowledge and healthcare training to meet a child on their level and helping them understand every step of the process.

For so many children, coming to the hospital — and especially to the ER — can be scary. So, my job as a child life specialist was to help them understand what’s going on and allow them to express their feelings through play.

For instance, I might explain to them what an IV is by calling it a “tiny straw for your body so it can get the medicine it needs right now.” They could give their teddy bear an IV first and this lets kids know what to expect in a way that’s easy for them to understand.

It would help empower the child to have control in an out-of-control situation.

How did the kids you were paired with respond to JoyRx Music? What impact did you see?

I’ll admit that early in the pandemic, I was a little nervous about how engaged children would be and what impact music medicine would have on the kids I worked with. But I was blown away by what a positive impact I saw in the kids. For so many of the children I worked with, that connection was a wonderful asset and resource for them. Many of these kids were isolated at home and having that point of connection gave them something to look forward to every week.

Music is an amazing way to reach the kids. It helps them feel less isolated, less scared. I saw such Joy on their faces in a way that words can’t describe. I watched those kids shine.

How did you see JoyRx Music affect the families and parents?

Seeing the parents watch their child blossom right before their eyes was inspiring and humbling. Our programs are free-of-charge, and yet it’s priceless to help those who need it most.

That’s why JoyRx is such a perfect complement to a child life specialist’s work. Their job is to meet children on their level, to help them adapt to a scary time in their life, to connect with them when they need it most — and we help them find their Joy. We’re always looking for a way to bring that moment of Joy in a stressful experience — and music is one of the ways we can do that.

What’s unique about your experience working with JoyRx and now working for JoyRx?

Having been on both sides of the program, I understand the partner experience. I know what a child life specialist’s workload is like and what’s doable or not doable, what’s too much to ask, what’s totally okay to ask, and so on. I know what the flow of a day is like for the children receiving care. What’s especially unique to me is that the year prior to getting the job with JoyRx, I helped design the new clinic space for CCC, but I never got to work in it.

But now, I watch our JoyRx music specialist in the hallways pushing the music cart full of instruments and playing guitar for children and families, so it’s so cool to still be part of CCC in this way and see how amazing the space is for children, families, and staff.

Everything feels like it’s come full circle.

What would you like to share to those thinking of supporting JoyRx programs? Why JoyRx?

What we’re doing here is such a great way to help kids feel more at ease and more comfortable in a medical setting.

At so many children’s hospitals, the goal is to make it feel as much like home as possible. Music is one way to achieve that — we help kids cope with stress of being in the hospital or clinical setting. Even if it’s in small ways, it makes a profound impact for them. I think after two years of the pandemic, we can’t underestimate how important emotional well-being is. Things like playing music for and with a child helps the environment feel less medical and more child-friendly.

It doesn’t just benefit the child, either. We see the impact it has on their siblings, on their parents, even on the healthcare staff working with them.

So, what brings you Joy?

Naturally, in general, my incredible family, beautiful sunsets, delicious sushi… But honestly, the genuine connections with others and relationship building with others brings me so much Joy.

Honestly, the expansion in Austin has been so fulfilling and exciting to watch. The little moments of connecting with kids and making their day easier brings me so much Joy and fulfillment in my work setting. Also, just knowing how we’ve gotten through all of this with each other. That human connection on a general level brings me so much happiness and Joy.

Help Allison connect more kids with JoyRx Music, free-of-charge, by donating today. Give the gift of Joy to children in need nationwide!

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