SHINE Awards spotlight Child Life Services in September

Written by Staff

Our team of Child Life Specialists help young patients during their hospital or clinic visit by giving extra support for coping and encouraging normal childhood activities while receiving medical care.  We also know that providing children with familiar activities helps make them more comfortable and content, we do this through:

  • Medical play, which helps a young child understand what is happening. This play is critical to a child’s healing and helps them to feel normal.
  • Coping and distraction techniques can help children get through stressful procedures.
  • Psychological preparations and therapeutic intervention, for children who are having a particularly difficult time dealing with their diagnosis and treatment.

We have seven Child Life Specialists who cover the following areas:  Surgery, Hematology/Oncology, Pediatric Intensive Care, medical unit, clinics and the Emergency Department.  Our team has completed their undergraduate degrees including an extensive internship and have passed our national certification examination to become Certified Child Life Specialists.

We also have two facility dogs, Nugget and Casey, who assist us in our normalization and therapeutic interventions with patients and families.

Meet Our Staff

Kim BassoWoman in blue blazer smiling professional head shot

Kimberly D. Basso joined AU Health (then MCG Health) in 1989 as a staff nurse in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.  She has held progressively responsible positions including Pediatric Transport Coordinator, PICU Assistant Nurse Manager and PICU Nurse Manager. In her more than 30 years of pediatric experience with the organization she has also assisted in developing many services for the children’s hospital, including the Pediatric Sedation Service, Pediatric Transport Team, Pediatric ECMO Team, Pediatric Code Team, and Pediatric Vascular Access Team. She is currently the Director of Women’s and  Children’s Services, and the Administrative Director for the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

Before joining the organization, Kim worked as a staff nurse in the PICU at James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana.  She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana and a Master of Science in Nursing degree from Walden University.  She is board certified as a nurse executive through ANCC.

Kym Allen, CCLS

Woman and man outside holding an awardKym Allen has been a certified Child Life Specialist for more than 30 years. She earned her BS in Child and Family Development from the University of Pittsburgh, with minors in psychology and sociology. She earned her MS from Boston University (formerly Wheelock College) in Child Life. She is a secondary dog handler for Casey and Nugget, and the director of Camp Share and Care and Camp Dash.

Stephanie Grayson, BSm CCLS

Woman sitting on a bean bag chairI’m Stephanie Grayson, the outpatient clinic Child Life Specialist, in-kind donations coordinator, and director of Camp Joint Venture (summer camp for rheumatology patients). I graduated from the University of Georgia (GO DAWGS!) and completed my internship here at the Children’s Hospital. I have worked as a Child Life Specialist at Children’s for almost 10 years. I love being outside and live music. I’m cheery, chatty and usually have a smile on my face. My favorite thing about being a Child Life Specialist is helping patients and families cope through some of their toughest days.

Harleigh Smith, MPA, CCLS

Woman and dog in front of a fountainI am so honored to have served as a Certified Child Life Specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia and as the primary handler to Nugget for almost six years. After growing up in Rome, Ga., and graduating from the University of Georgia in 2017, I am so glad that Augusta is where I landed. It is so amazing to see the impact Nugget has across so many pediatric healthcare environments, and it is an honor to be a small part of our patients’ and families’ journeys. One of my favorite parts of my job is providing facility dog interventions at our various diagnosis-specific summer camps, as well as having the opportunity to coordinate our children’s advisory council, Kids ART. When I am not at the hospital, I love to spend time outdoors with my son, husband, and all three of our dogs! I also love mentoring and coaching the Augusta University Cheerleaders.

Macie Meeks, BS, CCLS

Woman and dog on blue benchMy name is Macie Meeks and I have been the Surgery Child Life Specialist here at Children’s for almost eight years. I cover the Children’s OR and inpatients on 5C, and I am also the primary handler for one of our facility dogs, Casey. I am originally from Augusta, but I received my degree from the University of Georgia and then completed my Child Life internship here at Children’s Hospital of Georgia. I have been happily married to my husband for eight years, and we have a 5-year-old son and two fur babies who keep us busy! I love to read (I’m a huge Harry Potter fan), and the beach is my happy place. I love being a Child Life Specialist and consider myself so lucky to be a part of this amazing team!

Kristin O’Leary, BS, CCLS

Man and woman holding an awardMy name is Kristin O’Leary. I have worked as a Child Life Specialist at Children’s for almost five years. I cover the Pediatric ED and the Pediatric ICU. I grew up in Fayetteville, GA, before attending and graduating from Georgia Southern University (Go Eagles!). I completed my Child Life practicum at Navicent Health in Macon, Ga., and my Child Life internship at the Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. I am newly married and in my free time I enjoy spending time with my husband and dog!

Meredith Glenn BS, CCLS

Woman leaning against a plastic treeI have had the opportunity to work as a Certified Child Life Specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia for three years now. I first served as the Float Child Life Specialist supporting patients in a variety of outpatient and inpatient pediatric environments. Currently, I am the 4C General Pediatrics Inpatient/PIMCU/EMU Child Life Specialist. After growing up in Athens, Ga., and graduating from the University of Georgia in 2018, I began my Child Life professional career within the radiology department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. After a year, I found my way back to Georgia and closer to home to be hired as a CCLS here at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, where I was once a patient, and where my passion for supporting hospitalized pediatric patients began. Through the Child Life Department, I also am honored to serve as the secondary handler to the Children’s Hospital’s facility dog, Casey. I serve as our department’s Volunteer Coordinator and enjoy assisting and implementing programs with the hospital’s diagnosis-specific summer camps. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with friends, my family, being an aunt and traveling when possible.

Abbey Steele, BS, CCLS

Woman and man holding an awardAbbey is the float Child Life Specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. She recently completed her Child Life internship at Children’s. Abbey graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2022 with a BS in Child and Family Development. In her free time, Abbey enjoys spending time with her dog, Milo, running a small business, and traveling. She looks forward to the rest of her career at Children’s.


Man with certificate and dog

Nugget with Dr. Phillip Coule, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Man with certificate and dog

Casey with Mark Schreiber, Chief Nursing Officer