Canadian Association of Child Life Leaders (CACLL) - Association Canadienne des Responsables de Services Éducatifs en Mileu Pédiatrique (ACRSEMP) Canadian Association of Child Life Leaders (CACLL) - Association Canadienne des Responsables de Services Éducatifs en Mileu Pédiatrique (ACRSEMP)
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Special Feature

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Ruth Kettner (1923 2023)

By the time Ruth Kettner retired as Director at Health Sciences Centre (1971-1987), Child Life in Winnipeg was firmly established as a program to watch. Ruth’s gentle, collaborative nature combined with her keen ability to advocate for children and families led to the establishment of programs like the first closed circuit Children’s Hospital Television and hospital clown programs in Canada, advancement of now familiar educational tools (Patients Puppetsã), and an expanding child life team of professionals serving previously overlooked units. Not only did she improve patient care at Children’s Hospital, but she was also engaged in the advancement of the Child Life profession in North America. In 2004, Ruth’s contribution to the profession was recognized as she was awarded the Child Life Council Distinguished Service Award in Seattle, WA, 2004. As a popular speaker and educator, Ruth shared her understanding, knowledge, and practice philosophy annually with medical students, residents and attending physicians as well as students and professionals in allied services. Indeed, Ruth influenced multiple generations of future health care providers with lessons, big and small, often imparted through her special ability to tell a heartwarming story. This talent also supported her ongoing forays in search of new and sustainable funding to support her passion:  more and better care for all children and families in the hospital. Not shy to advocate for funding, Ruth had a unique personality and easy appeal that propelled her access to hospital executives, local philanthropists, and community organizations – with much success. The legacy of Ruth Kettner, Child Life Therapist, lives on through the lasting programs in Winnipeg, and the countless Child Life Specialists who now mentor and support new generations of health care professionals, and provide exemplary care for children and families. A Child Life Endowment Fund to support child life workers attendance at professional conferences and courses was established by Ruth’s family.