SPRINGFIELD — What if kids were not scared to go to the hospital? What if parents had someone to stand beside them to offer emotional support during a stressful time?

Those are the goals of PeaceHealth’s Child Life Specialist program and a significant donation from the Oregon Community Credit Union Foundation will allow the program to expand.

OCCU Foundation has pledged to support additional staff for three years with a $300,000 donation. The contribution is a lead gift to PeaceHealth’s $1 million fundraising campaign.

“OCCU Foundation is in awe of the support the Child Life Specialists provide every day for children and families in our community during their time in the hospital,” said Ron Neumann, OCCU Foundation board chair.

PeaceHealth’s certified child life specialists help infants, children, youth and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of illness, trauma and loss. Assistance can include therapeutic play, preparation for procedures and education to help reduce fear, anxiety and pain. The current team of three Child Life Specialists provide aid to 1,500 pediatric patients annually.

OCCU Foundation’s gift will help PeaceHealth hire additional Child Life Specialist staff at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend.