Call to Action: Becoming an Abolitionist CCLS

Abolitionists [child life specialists] fight for children they will never meet or see because they are visionaries; (Love, 2020, pg 90). The current cultural climate makes it imperative to not only grow our knowledge and skills in racial consciousness but to be strategic and methodical in thought, communication, and action. By doing nothing we become part of the system that perpetuates racism. As CCLS we are ethically bound to understand the history of racial oppression in America as well as interrogate whiteness and the connection to healthcare disparities. In so doing, we can take steps to disrupt and dismantle racist systems and strive to be abolitionist CCLS. Child life specialists are in a unique position to affect the equity and quality of care that all children and families receive. By critically examining the ways patients and families of color experience healthcare environments through the strengths-based model of Community Cultural Wealth and the ethical lens of the 4 I's of Oppression (Ideological, Institutional, Interpersonal, and individual). CCLS can transform our practice to become co-conspirators, that amplify voices and promote agency of communities of color thus deeply affecting patient and family-centered care towards a more inclusive model.

LOVE, B. E. T. T. I. N. A. (2020). We Want To Do More Than Survive: abolitionist teaching and the pursuit of educational freedom. S.l.: BEACON.

Participants will learn about historical practices affecting patient care, medical decisions, and relationships between providers and recipients of health care.
Participants will examine whiteness as a way to understand privilege and how one group benefits from the oppression of another.
Participants will utilize the 17s of Oppression to consider ethical responsibility that deepens ones own knowledge of racial consciousness and implications for clinical practice.
Participants will use theories of community cultural wealth to develop and consider a strengths-based model of child life practice.Participants learn what it means to be an abolitionist CCLS

DOMAIN: Ethics
2 PDUs

Genevieve Lowry


Genevieve Lowry began her career as a certified child life specialist working with children diagnosed with chronic and life threatening illness at a major New York Hospital. In 2007 she began a private practice working with families in the community facing a variety of challenges. These experiences and her online platform, The Convenient Classroom where is the co-creator of the Online Child Life Certification Test Preparation course as well as provides professional development to child life and creative arts therapists, led her to consider the work of the child life specialist beyond the hospital. Genevieve has worked at Bank Street College since 2004 as adjunct, Interim Director of the Child Life Program (2015-2016) and currently as Course Instructor and Fieldwork Advisor in the fully online Child Life Program. In these roles Genevieve demonstrates her belief that the philosophical tenets of child life can be applied to other settings and populations leading to innovative programming in communities and coursework at Bank Street. She is particularly interested in the intersection of social justice and health care as well as supporting child life students and professionals to be advocates for social justice. She writes, presents and provides consultation to a variety of organizations both locally and nationally and in 2013 she was recognized by Wheelock College as an alumni fulfilling the college’s mission and philosophy.

Troy Pinkney-Ragsdale


Troy is a Certified Child Life Specialist for and has over 25 years of experience in the field of Child Life, including directing several child life programs in the tri-state area. She has served as the Director of the Child Life Masters Program at Bank Street College since 2004, and has taught the following courses: Child Development, Adolescent and Emerging Adulthood, Child Life in Health Care Settings, Children with Special Health Care Needs, and Child Life Administration.

Troy has been an active member of the Association of Child Life Professionals and has held several leadership positions. Patient and Family Centered Care has been an integral part of her work with children, youth and their families for the last 30 years. She is committed to working with families. During her career, she has worked as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Therapist, Special Educator and as a Certified Child Life Specialist. Throughout her career she remains committed to and advocating for the diverse and unique needs of all patients and their family, supporting their growth and development.

Rechelle Porter


Director of Child Life Services
New York Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital

Rechelle D Porter, CCLS, LSW is the Director of Child Life Services and Creative Art Therapies at New York Presbyterian/ Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. She has been a Child Life Specialist for over 25 years in both inpatient pediatric general medicine and oncology units, Ambulatory Surgery and outpatient Hematology and Oncology. Hospital Liaison for Family Advisory Council,  and Internship Coordinator Rechelle has served ACLP Nominating committee, Education, and Training Committee.  She has presented on cultural competencies for child life specialist at regional conferences.  Facilitator for Zero Harm and Empathy training for New York Presbyterian. 

Deborah Vilas


Deborah Vilas, MS, CCLS, LMSW is a faculty advisor and instructor in the Child Life Program at the Bank Street College of Education in New York City, where she teaches graduate students how to provide meaningful and therapeutic play experiences for hospitalized children. Deborah has worked with children as a child life specialist, preschool teacher and social worker. An author, consultant, blogger and international public speaker, Deborah has presented and taught in Australia, The Philippines, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Mexico, the Palestinian Territories, and Japan. In 2016, she participated in a panel presentation about child life and technology at the United Nations. In 2014, Deborah represented her profession and her country as a keynote speaker at the first global summit on pediatric psychosocial care in hospitals, addressing delegates from 46 countries on the importance of play for sick and injured children. Her blog reaches followers in 89 countries.


Call to Action: Becoming an Abolitionist
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5 Questions
5 Questions  |  Unlimited attempts  |  4/5 points to pass
5 Questions  |  Unlimited attempts  |  4/5 points to pass
2.00 PDUs credits  |  Certificate available
2.00 PDUs credits  |  Certificate available