International Scholarship Winners

About the Awards

The Association of Child Life Professionals awards five international scholarships to enable recipients to attend the Child Life Annual Conference.

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 2019 Award Winners


Ndibmun Doh Macdonald, Tooba Nadeem Akhtar, Marcela Valenzuela, Grace Kajuju Maore, and Sonya Kamenskaya touring Comer Children's Hospital during the 2019 Child Life Annual Conference.


Tooba Nadeem Akhtar

Tooba Nadeem Akhtar is a mental health professional in Pakistan, training to be a child and adolescent mental health counselor. She has a keen interest in research and innovation in mental health care for children and family units. She has two years of experience in public health research and service delivery, and is now using that to improve mental health services at The Indus Hospital. Presently, she works as a counselor at her country’s only Child Life Services program under Pediatric Psycho-Social Support Services. Her areas of focus are providing play and art- based counseling and medical explanations to children undergoing treatment for chronic illnesses.


Sonya Kamenskaya

Sonya Kamenskaya works as a social educator at the Speransky Children Hospital Charity Foundation. For the last 8 years she’s been working with children who suffered burn injuries. She works in playrooms with children of all ages, and in her work she uses art-therapy and play-therapy techniques. Her main goal is to reduce stress and fear that the child might suffer during hospitalization. She also works individually with children in wards, where her main task is psychological preparation for medical procedures. She is in charge of organizing the after-discharge programs: she organizes monthly meetings of the children burn club and is the director of summer and winter rehabilitation burn camps for young burn survivors.


Ndibmun Doh Macdonald

For the past several years, Ndibmun Doh Macdonald has worked in the emergency department of a public Gynaeco-Obstetric and Pediatric hospital, which is the first specialized mother and child hospital in the region. In addition to collaborating with the hospital psychologist, Macdonald receives online mentoring on child life principles such communication and play therapy from international child life specialist Deborah Vilas, who is based in New York. He educates doctors and nurses in the emergency department on the resilience of pediatric patients who have injuries (burns, accidents, etc.), malnutrition, or medical pathologies, as well as those who are survivors of gender-based violence. He is passionate about the use of child life practice to create a stress-free environment for the parents during reception, treatment, and hospitalization.


Grace Kajuju Maore

Grace Kajuju Maore works at Faraja Cancer Support Trust, a Kenyan organization that seeks to provide free complementary therapies to cancer patients and their caregivers. She coordinates one of their programs known as Crafts for Cure, a pediatric art and play project at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. The program aims to help children with life-threatening illnesses get a chance to express themselves and journal their journey while in hospital through art. She also coordinates weekly support group meetings for the children's parents. The support group helps relieve the emotional stress brought about by the cultural taboo associated with chronic illnesses in her country. She is currently working with the Patient Support Manager at Faraja to start a Child Life Program at Kenyatta Hospital to help the children cope with all the challenges associated with their treatment plans. They also hope to start a support program for the pediatric medical practitioners in the hospital.


Marcela Valenzuela

Marcela Valenzuela is a Speech and Language Pathologist in Chile and she has dedicated herself to working with hospitalized patients in pediatrics and neonatology with swallowing and communication disorders, within a child rehabilitation team. She has been trained in different topics: eating disorders and swallowing, breastfeeding, and Children and Adolescents with Special Needs of Health Care. She is interested in the humanization of care for her patients and families, and to acquire tools that support her work from a psychosocial approach, she is currently studying for her master's degree in Barcelona on Emotional Care in Hospitalized Children according to the Child Life Model.

Congratulations to the 2018 Award Winners

International Winners2018

Hsin-Ju Hsiao, Kongmeng Sialee, Karen Jolly, Perminder Kaur Wadhvani, and Cath Hubbok touring Johns Hopkins Hospital during the 2018 Child Life Annual Conference.

Hsin-Ju Hsiao

Hsin-Ju Hsiao

Hsin-Ju Hsiao is a Certified Child Life Specialist who works in the pediatric operating theater of NTUCH and in the pediatric hematology/oncology unit of CGMH. The pediatric psychosocial care provided in her places of employment includes social work, psychology, art therapy, and child life. All these services aim to help children build psychosocial adaptation to get through hospitalization and the difficulties related to their medical treatment. Hsin-Ju works with psychosocial professionals who work with the medical team to boost the resilience of pediatric patients and their families in the courses of treatment.

Cath Hubbuck

Cath Hubbuck

Cath Hubbuck is a qualified, registered Health Play Specialist. She has a broad range of experiences working with children of all ages in a variety of settings though her professional training is in hospital-based practice. Her most formative experience has been in working with children with neurological conditions, children who have suffered a burn injury and children in the Outpatients Department. She has taught and written extensively on the role and work of Health Play Specialists and in 2009 published book on the subject. She has taught on the Health Play Specialist Training course and has also spoken at an international level. Cath resides in Norwich, UK

Karen Jolly

Karen Jolly

Karen Jolly is a Procedural Pain & Play Therapist at Children’s Cancer Centre, in Monash Health, Victoria, Australia. She delivers a play & procedural coping program to assist children and families being treated for cancer on the inpatient wards and outpatient clinic. This role involves collaborative work with families, children and staff to enhance coping, and to celebrate the competences, successes and ways in which families support their child and that children support themselves. She also provides individual sessions with children and families, actively provide coping support in the treatment room and as part of a multidisciplinary team facilitate group interventions such as sibling days, adolescent evenings, medical play groups, craft/ activity groups.

Kongmeng Sialee

Kongmeng Sialee, is the first and only Child Life Therapist at Lao Friends Hospital for Children in Lao PDR. He has successfully integrated psychosocial care into the care of practices at Lao Friends Hospital. Kongmeng helps children cope during their hospital stay, prepare children for medical procedures by medical play, coping and procedural plan and therapeutic play.He works with doctors and nurses to educate them about psychosocial care as well as internal volunteers.

Perminder Wadhvani

Perminder Kaur Wadhvani

Perminder Kaur Wadhvani is a Teaching Assistant/Instructor, & Fieldwork supervisor for Kashiba Gordhandas Patel Children’s Hospital in India.She has assisted and coordinated the Summer Institute course in Child Life Services: Enhancing the Psychosocial Wellbeing of Children and Families in Healthcare Settings; as well as assisted with conducting various capacity building workshops with CanKids….Kidscan, a childhood cancer support program.

Child Life Profession