Erika Harada
Den-en Chofu Futaba Middle School

Today, I am going to share with you my dream. My dream is to be a CLS. Do you know what a CLS is? CLS stands for Child Life Specialist. A Child Life Specialist is a person who works in the childrenfs ward in a hospital. The job of the CLS is to give emotional support and to alleviate the anxiety of these patients through listening to their troubles, organizing parties, reading books, and playing with them. Another important aspect of this job is to provide care for the parents and siblings who are often in need of support as well.

I found out about this unique and fulfilling profession last year through a television drama series that I happened to be watching. At around the same time, we were given a school assignment to interview a person whose profession interested us. I decided to interview someone who currently works as a Child Life Specialist. ‚hmet a woman who has been working as a CLS for the past eight years at a hospital in Tokyo. She explained to me how she helps patients and their families through difficult times. By listening to her story, I could imagine her work must be very strenuous, but at the same time uniquely rewarding.

When I was in fourth grade, I read a book titled, gHold On, and You Will Be Happyh by Toshiko Yamazaki. It is a true story about a boy who died of cancer at the age of nine. The book had a great impact on me, in that it made me think, really think, about life and death for the first time. What could I hope to do for someone like him or his family, I wondered. In the book, as the boy became weaker and weaker, his mother became unstable and she eventually suffered a mental breakdown. Had there been a CLS, I feel they could have given much needed comfort and support to both mother and child. The story touched me so deeply. My second dream is to introduce this job throughout Japan. In America, it is not rare for hospitals to offer the assistance of a CLS. However, in Japan, we do not see these kinds of specialists working in most hospitals. I want to change that. This is something I want to change.

Currently, the United States leads the world in psychiatric research. Over time, they have developed a scientifically proven methodology of how to cope with people who have experienced overwhelming events. Examples of such people include the families of organ donors, victims of natural disasters, war veterans, cancer patients and their families. Therefore, I want to be trained as a CLS in the United States. Then, returning to Japan, I wish to develop methods more suited and adaptable to Japanese society.

I always feel fortunate to be alive and well. However, there are many children in the world who, at this very moment, are fighting cancer. They are very young but they have to endure long and painful treatment. They must be filled with a deep yearning, eager to play as other ordinary children do, and to live more! I want to do all I can for them. I should not take it for granted that I am so happy, healthy and able to live so energetically. I want to use my energy to care for children who are fighting cancer and other diseases. Becoming a Child Life Specialist will enable me to fulfill my dream.

(1-32 Speech in 64th Contest, 2012)

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