International Scholarship Recipients

About the Awards

The Association of Child Life Professionals awards five international scholarships each year to enable recipients to attend the Child Life Annual Conference. The recipients of the 2020 International Scholarships attended the Child Life Virtual Conference, which took place online May 20–23, and will also attend the 2021 Child Life Annual Conference in Los Angeles, along with three new recipients.

Each scholarship covers registration for the conference, up to five nights lodging at the conference hotel, actual cost of economy round-trip airfare up to $1,800 U.S., and a small stipend for meals and incidentals. 

Applicants may be from any country outside North America. Applications are encouraged from any healthcare professional outside North America who has an interest in the psychosocial care of children. The award process will look most favorably on professional practitioners or administrators in a position to be able to introduce, or greatly enhance, psychosocial care consistent with child life practice and principles in their respective parts of the world. Applicants must have proficiency in English, as it is the official language of the conference.


Congratulations to the 2020 Award Winners

Maryam Al-Bahar

I am a child life student from Kuwait City, Kuwait. I work in a non-profit organization, Kuwait Association for the Care of Children in Hospital, that provides child life services to children in local government hospitals. I am leading a new child life program at Jaber Hospital. I recently completed my Practicum training at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, in pursuit of the Child Life certification to become the first Kuwaiti Child Life Specialist. I have three years of experience working and volunteering in pediatric healthcare, hospice settings and camps. 



Sara Costa

Sara is a qualified Portuguese Recreational Therapist and has been working for the past two years at Al Jalila Children’s Hospital (AJCH) in Dubai, UAE, under the umbrella of the Mental Health Centre of Excellence (MHCE). Working under the Mental Health Centre, Sara is in the process of establishing a child life program within the children’s hospital in collaboration with the child life team, currently the UAE’s only child life department. Sara is one of the first Recreational Therapists in Dubai, where she is helping to develop the profession and bring awareness within the country. She has a strong desire to implement and work through a psychosocial approach for a better care of patients and their families.

At AJCH, Sara has been working with children and adolescents of all ages suffering from the most diverse medical and mental health conditions. In her work, she uses a variety of therapeutic mediators to improve quality of health, emotional safety, emotional stability, coping and overall well-being. She is currently studying for her master’s degree in the US to become a Board Certified

Judith Kleist


Judith Kleist

Judith Kleist is a psychologist and psychotherapist in Germany. In the last years, her focus was on working with adults, but since she loves to work with younger people, she is currently in the process of acquiring the additional qualification for children and adolescent psychotherapy. She works in a well-known children's somatic hospital in Munich, where her job is the psychosomatic diagnostic, giving advice to the families for the time after the stay and supporting the children and adolescents during their stay. Therefore, she talks to children of all ages and also uses art therapy and play therapy techniques. In addition, she offers relief talks for relatives. Since the hospital is currently establishing a child life specialist program, the first in Germany, she supports the team in developing the concept. She applied for the conference as a scholarship holder to get in touch with trained child life specialists and to get inspiration for the implementation in Germany. 





Atoofa Najmi

Atoofa Najmi is the team lead of the Child Life Services at Pediatric Psychosocial Department, The Indus Hospital, Pakistan. She has a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology. She has been working with chronically ill and hospitalized children for last two and a half years, to make their hospital journey a smoother experience through use of play, art and psychological preparation. Her area of interests lie in advocating for use of psychological preparation, addressing psychosocial needs of children with complex illnesses and raising awareness about the Child Life profession in her country.

Sonia Tordera

Sonia Tordera is one of four professionals working on the Child Life program in Barcelona Children’s Hospital. This program opened in 2004 and is the only program in Spain. Sonia graduated in Psychology in 2012 and afterwards completed a master's degree in Emotional Care in Hospitalized Children according to the Child Life model also in Barcelona. She then started as a volunteer in playrooms and waiting rooms in Barcelona Children’s Hospital and joined in a siblings camp in Ireland with the Barretstown foundation. She collaborated with the hospital in Patient Experience projects as a volunteer and in October 2017, she started working in the already created Child Life program. Since then, she has learned a lot from her colleagues and worked in many areas of the hospital. Currently, she works on psychological preparation before surgeries and medical procedures (cardiology, autism patients, cochlear implant and patients in bone marrow transplants) and accompanies during medical procedures when necessary. Sonia also collaborates with patient experience projects improving families experiences. The other main part of her job is coordinating and working with the friendly hospital program and professionals, which includes all the those helping to keep children be children in the hospital: school, hospital clowns, art therapists, animal assisted therapy team, and musicians. Her goal is to keep going and to promote our profession as much as possible. She would love to make hospitals a better places for children.

Child Life Profession