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Children’s Mercy Hospital Recognizes UCM CHAMP Group as Volunteers of the Month

By Jeff Murphy, November 20, 2018


Leaders and members of the University of Central Missouri Children in Healthcare and Medical Play (CHAMP) organization are being recognized as Volunteers of the Month for November 2018 by Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. They include, from left, Sarah Coldiron, Julianna Holguin, Jami Clay, Sadie Webb, and Madison Skambraks. Other members not shown are Hailey Welch, Sadie Webb, Ellie Shores, Amy Sindt, Emma Ciafullo and Shyla Bass.

WARRENSBURG, MO – A group of University of Central Missouri students who are making an impact on kids who are hospitalized is being recognized by Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. The well-known medical facility for children is honoring UCM’s Children in Healthcare and Medical Play (CHAMP) organization as November 2018 Volunteers of the Month.

CHAMP is an organization that was created by individuals enrolled in the Child and Family Development Program. It was founded in 2012 by two UCM students, Marissa Bearden and Kayla Boger, under the guidance and encouragement of Joyce Chang, Ph.D., professor of child and family development who serves as CHAMP faculty advisor.

According to Chang, CHAMP has been hosting Partner-in-Play activities for Children’s Mercy Hospital for many years. Through this effort, the group’s focus is on bringing fun and developmentally appropriate activities to facilitate “play” for hospitalized children and their families.
“CHAMP welcomes all students who believe in the importance of play in children’s lives,” Chang said.
She noted that the primary goal of CHAMP is to support students who are interested in working in healthcare settings or becoming a child life specialist through a wide variety of events and activities. Such efforts include participation in workshops, seminars, conferences, hospital events and community services.

Julianna Holguin, a junior child and family development major from Pleasant Hill, said CHAMP visits Children’s Mercy Hospital at least four times a year.  CHAMP members look forward to engaging with children, sometimes working with them in creative ways.

She noted, for example, “At our last event, we made paper plate animals and decorated journals that the kids could take with them to use later as well.”

“It is so humbling and fulfilling to see the smiles on the kids’ faces while guiding them through the activities,” Holguin said. “We will now be making craft bags for the kiddos who can’t make it to our sessions so they can craft later in their rooms.”

Working with children gives CHAMP members an opportunity to truly experience learning to a greater degree through the hands-on experience they gain with each visit. In addition to career development opportunities, the group’s volunteer work at the hospital offers something members can’t obtain in a regular classroom, particularly as it relates to what children give back to UCM students.

“Having the opportunity to gain experience working with children in a hospital setting is very rewarding for CHAMP members. Being able to assist these kiddos in fun activities makes us all look forward to careers working with children in the future,” Holguin said. “The kids never cease to amaze us and we have so much fun spending time with them.”

In addition to Holguin, CHAMP leadership and members include: Vice President Jami Clay, senior community health major from Olathe, Kan.; Treasurer Ashley Johnson, junior psychology major from Sedalia; Public Relations Officer Sarah Coldiron, freshman child and family development major from Raymore; Hailey Welch, freshman social work major from Raymore; Sadie Webb, sophomore nursing major from Lee’s Summit; Ellie Shores, freshman nursing major from Lee’s Summit; Madison Skambraks, sophomore biology/pre-medicine major from New Melle; Amy Sindt, junior speech/language pathology major from Independence; Emma Ciafullo, freshman nursing major from Lee’s Summit; and Shyla Bass, freshman nursing major from Lee’s Summit.

Individuals who want to know more about CHAMP can contact Chang at 660-543-4932 or email To learn more about UCM’s Child and Family Development program, contact Jaimee L. Hartenstein, Ph.D., assistant professor of child and family development, at 660-543-8358 or


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