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Wish Blog

Child life specialist starts her career by referring wish children

Elena, a certified child life specialist at Phoenix Children's Hospital
Elena Rabago, a certified child life specialist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, has become a source of emotional support for many kids and families in the dialysis center over the past year.

“These kids can spend hours a day, multiple times a week on dialysis treatment which can be hard for any child and their family. I provide education about dialysis and help distract the kids while they are on treatment,” Elena said.

One way Elena discovered she can support her patients is referring kids for a wish experience.

“A wish can really make a family feel like a family because they get the chance to enjoy time together out of a hospital or clinic,” she said. “It is an experience that sparks joy in children, and it makes my heart happy to help families with different resources they may not have used before.”

For Elena, the best part of her job is interacting with the kids one-on-one and seeing how their different personalities inspire their wish.

“I love just being able to help a kid feel like a kid again,” said Elena, who will be celebrating her one-year anniversary at her job in May. “It brings me a lot of joy to allow them to do the things they enjoy.”

While Elena has referred multiple children to Make-A-Wish Arizona, she will always remember her first wish kid.

“Katie wished to go on a trip to Walt Disney World and she loved that trip,” she said. “She was so excited for several weeks and was thinking about what to do. We would sit down at least once a week for a month and talk about what kind of wishes she could make, and how big her wish could be.”

“Katie wanted to choose something that could involve her whole family, which was just a sweet moment to hear.”

While the two talked about her excitement before Katie’s wish, Elena was happy to see the joy it brought Katie and her family when they returned home.

“There is a pride knowing they went on the trip and that they can come back and be able to share that with everybody,” she continued. “A wish unites a family. I notice a lot more excitement and energy in the parents because it feels like they can get back to what was their ‘normal’ life. Most of these kids are working their way towards transplant, so this gives them a sense of normalcy.”

Elena, a certified child life specialist at Phoenix Children's Hospital

One of the wish kids who Elena is currently working with wears braces on her legs, and her hope is to design a shoe so kids like her can feel included.

“She has so much dedication towards it, and figuring out what she wants to do, and how she wants to create the shoe. This the start to her journey with Make-A-Wish Arizona.”

About this Blog

Make-A-Wish Arizona is the founding chapter of Make-A-Wish, the international wish granting organization. Our chapter grants incredible wishes every day for Arizona children with life-threatening medical conditions. We want to share the stories of our wishes -- and the inspiration, creativity, imagination and life-affirming enthusiasm that they bring -- with you.

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Make-A-Wish® Arizona
2901 North 78th Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
(602) 395-9474
Toll Free (800) 324-9474