Angie Sersha and AJ, Jackson and Nick Simonson

Prescribing play: Sanford leader shares motivation for giving

October 31, 2018

Angie Sersha imagined a scary syringe transforming into a flying spaceship, taking a sick child to a fairytale world far removed from a hospital exam room. She was hearing about Child Life for the first time and learning about the instrumental part the service can play in a child’s medical experience.

“I was blown away by the potential,” said Sersha, executive director of legal services at Sanford Bismarck.

Sersha and her husband, Nick Simonson, created the Angie Sersha and Nick Simonson Endowment for Child Life Program to benefit the Above and Beyond campaign. They hope to help launch the region’s first Child Life program at Sanford Bismarck.

Child Life Specialists work alongside doctors and nurses, using education and therapeutic play to reduce children’s pain, fear and anxiety. As a mother of two, that mission especially resonated with Sersha.

“The concept of using play therapy to make a situation less stressful, that just speaks volumes to me as a mom,” Sersha said. “We wanted to play a role in making sure children and their families are getting the best possible care.”

Sersha’s oldest son, 4-year-old AJ, was born five weeks early. She knows from that experience the anxiety involved with having a sick child in the hospital.

“Child Life can make things just a little better for kids and take the existing standard of care to the next level,” Sersha said. “This program touches the family, alleviates some of the stress mom, dad and siblings must be feeling and gives the family extra attention when it’s needed the most.”

Once established at Sanford Bismarck, Child Life will go anywhere a child is in need in the hospital and clinics. Best of all, families never see a bill for Child Life services.

Sersha and her husband had been involved in other causes, volunteering their time and giving monetary donations, but as they learned more about Child Life, they wanted to do what they could to make a difference.

“This, in particular, spoke to my soul, and I knew I needed to participate,” Sersha said. “I view it as a responsibility that when you have the ability to help those who need it that you should do that. You never know when you might be that person needing that helping hand.”

Learn more about the Above and Beyond campaign and show your support.