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Child Life Therapist Proves 'Physical Abilities Don't Define Life's Possibilities'

Spanning four decades, Child Life Therapist Elaine Hardin has entertained and provided essential emotional support to patients at Shriners Children's Greenville.

With a kind voice and playful temperament, Elaine has felt more like a favorite aunt than a hospital employee to the thousands of children in her care since the 1980s.

A former Lander University basketball star, Elaine’s determination is common among many high-achieving athletes; a spirit she passes along to recovering patients. This winning attitude makes her memorable. Another quality makes her unforgettable as well, particularly to differently-abled patients – the one-time scholarship recipient is in a wheelchair.

Paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident in her early 20s, Elaine is relatable to patients in a way she never planned.

“I wanted to be a coach,” Elaine said. “But while in the hospital following my injury, I thought about what my new path might look like. That’s when I saw the child life therapists at work and thought, ‘Hey, I could do that!"

Driving herself from her home near North Carolina to the hospital in South Carolina, and enjoying an active, full life – without trying, Elaine shows patients that your physical abilities don’t define your life’s possibilities.

The kids that I work with are just great! I learn something from them every day.
Elaine, Greenville, SC
Elaine outdoors with one of the many patients she has cared for

Providing emotional support and creating engaging activities – particularly for children who require longer hospitalizations – are among the services a child life therapist, like Elaine, provides.

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