Phil. 1:3

       Bernard, the Hospital Puppet

 

 

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.....

Bernard's Mommy - Diana M. Chiles - Le Bonheur Children's Hospital - Memphis, Tennessee

*

"A Cheerful Heart Does Good Like A Medicine."

Proverbs 15:13

 

 

Bernard's Mommy, Diana Chiles

 

 

"I thank Jesus Christ, our Lord, who has given me strength,

that He considered me faithful, appointing me to his service."

1 Tim. 1:12

 

 

Diana M. Chiles, M.Ed, MRE, CCLS

( and Bernard's Mommy )

 

I have a Masters Degrees in Education/Child Development

from Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi,

and a second Masters in Religious Education

from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

in Fort Worth, Texas -- a three year degree

with a concentration in Family Counseling.

 

I first became a "puppeteer" in 1970,

when I did my research/thesis project on

"Puppetry and It's Effect Upon Education"

while earning my Masters in Education Degree.

 

My professors built a puppet stage for me and sent me on the road

to do puppet shows all over the state of Mississippi.

They encouraged me to become a professional puppeteer.

But I wanted to do something important with my life.

I was afraid that if I were a puppeteer,

people would wonder what I was going to do when I grew up!

 

I taught school immediately after graduating from college.

During that time I also worked with the youth group at my church,

which included leading their puppetry ministry.

        

While lecturing for a teacherís conference in Houston, Texas,

the Head Chaplain from M.D. Anderson, Dr. Ed Mahnke, heard me speak. 

He talked to me about the fear and trauma

that children experience when they are hospitalized. 

He asked me if I had ever considered utilizing my puppets as a therapeutic tool

to help children cope with the emotional stresses of hospitalization. 

 

I loved my teaching.  (I was a born teacher!) 

But Chaplain Mahnke's words continued to grow inside my heart.

After much prayer, I resigned my teaching, moved to Fort Worth, Texas,

and entered Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

to earn a Masters in Family Counseling.

 

During my research, I came across several wonderful articles

written by Sally Francis, the Child Life Director

for the Children's Hospital in Dallas, Texas.

I was able to spend valuable quality time under Sally's wing,

and with her encouragement, completed a Child Life Internship

at Cook-Fort Worth Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.

It was during this time that I discovered for myself the perfect combination

 of therapy and puppetry to reach the special needs of frightened children.

 

Upon graduation from Seminary in May, 1979,

I was hired as a Pediatric Therapist for the

Mississippi Baptist Medical Center

in Jackson, Mississippi.

 

In 1991, I received a phone call

from Dr. Sallye Wilcox, the Vice-President of Nursing at

Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

 

Ironically, Memphis was my home town and the city

where my mother, uncle, sister, brother-in-law, and three nieces lived.

My nieces had been praying for "Aunt Di Di" to "come home".

(God never ignores the prayers of children.)

 

Sally's words were:

"Diana, I was wondering if there were anyway you would

consider coming to Le Bonheur. 

Le Bonheur needs to play.  Le Bonheur needs Bernard."

 

So I came home . . . home to Memphis.

 

Bernard became the first green little boy

ever admitted to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital

on March 18, 1991.

After 20 years of this glorious ministry,

on June 20, 2011, the wonderful chapter in my life came to an end.,

 

I will always cherish the memories of my time there.

 

***

 

So what did I do?  It's simple:

I used puppetry to comfort children.

 

As a fellow patient, Bernard has the ability to bring a smile

 and to provide trust, comfort and friendship.

Through play children are able to express their feelings and

gain a greater understanding of their hospital experience.

 

For many years Bernard and I were a part of

Le Bonheur's Child Life Department,

working with the other Child Life Specialists to help

children and their families

 cope with the fears and emotional stresses of hospitalization.

 

    

Click on the above picture to see Bernard's Bedroom and Diana's office.

 

Today I am working as an independent free-lance Christian Speaker,

focusing on churches and children's ministries,

as well as medical institutions, schools and civic organizations.

Through the years, there have been many children and families

who have been touched my heart and inspired my life.

It is a pleasure to have the opportunities to share their stories.

 

 

Click on above pictures to see a few articles on Diana & Bernard

 

  

  

 

Click on above picture for a more detailed version of

My Puppetry Beginnings

 

 

Bernard and his real life cousins, Haven and Gibson

 

    My Wonderful Family

 

 

 

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