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Weddington volunteer heads to Red Cross hospital in South Africa

There’s a lot more to being a child life specialist than just play

Emily Beauchemin still hasn’t packed her bags, though her flight leaves in just four days for Cape Town, South Africa, where she will spend three months volunteering as a child life specialist at the Red Cross War Memorial Hospital.

“There’s a lot more to being a child life specialist than just play,” she said.

Emily, 23, will be working with children who are facing everything from minor procedures to terminal illness. In her role, she will help young patients prepare for their procedures and provide psychological and emotional support.

“We also do bereavement support,” she said, noting that she will be helping some children with terminal illnesses build scrapbooks and memories for their families.

Emily is going to Cape Town through a program called Connect 123, which helps students and young professionals find international internships and volunteer opportunities.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit