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Special Programs

child dressed as doctor with doll

Operation Learn

Children’s Hospital & Medical Center offers a surgical preparation program intended for children ages 3 to 8 years of age and their families. This program is designed to help children understand what to expect on the day of surgery. Preparing your child for surgery can reduce anxiety and help with coping before, during, and after their hospital experience. 

The program begins with a brief video that walks your child through the surgery process as they will experience it. A child life specialist then reviews the surgical routine; your child is able to view pictures of the rooms they will visit on the day of surgery, and is encouraged to manipulate actual medical equipment. Finally, you and your child are taken on a tour of the CARES pre-surgical unit.  Inpatient tours are also available if your child will be admitted post operatively.

Child life hosts Operation Learn every Tuesday at 5:15pm. The program is free to any family whose child is preparing for surgery at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center.

To register for the program, please call (402) 955-5309.

School Re-entry

The School Re-entry program at Children's Hospital & Medical Center offers an opportunity for your child's classmates and teachers to learn basic and important information regarding your child’s life changing diagnosis and treatment plan.

The School Re-entry program is coordinated and conducted by a Certified Child Life Specialist. Each presentation is designed for the age and developmental grade level. There is no charge to the family or the school for this outreach service.

For families whose school is within a 50 mile radius of Omaha: A classroom visit by a child life specialist is available for patients in grades Kindergarten through 12th grade. One visit per child please.

For families who live beyond the 50 mile radius of Omaha – PowerPoint Presentations and email resources are able to be sent to the classroom teachers to utilize for educating their classroom.

Positive outcomes of a School Re-entry may include:
• Promotes positive self-esteem for the child returning back to school
• Eases parent anxiety
• Informs school personnel of possible accommodations that will be needed
• Increases comfort level of classroom teacher and school staff
• Clarifies misconceptions and myths about the child's illness
• Discourages teasing and bullying
• Increases communication between school and family
• Provides an understanding of side effects and medications
• Encourages the communication about an emergency plan
• Gives children permission to talk about their friend's situation
• Empowers the children to teach other schoolmates what they have learned and to speak positively about the child and their illness
• Encourages teachers and classmates to think of creative and kind ways to support their friend

photo of beads

Beads of Courage®

Beads of Courage® is an international program designed to support and strengthen children and families coping with serious illness. As patients progress through medical treatments, they receive beads to mark specific tests, procedures and treatment milestones. Beads of different colors and styles correspond to each step, as determined by a program bead guide. Through Beads of Courage®, children and their families acknowledge each step of their treatment journey.

Children’s Hospital & Medical Center currently offers Beads of Courage® to eligible patients with chronic conditions, outlined by Beads of Courage.


Candlelighters is a support network for pediatric oncology patients and their families. The goal of the group is to link patients and families to socialize and navigate life during cancer treatment.

This group is facilitated by a team of child life specialists and social workers. Most support events include family fun events off the hospital campus.  For more information contact social worker June McAtee at