Jerriann Myers Wilson
Jerriann Myers Wilson
Wilson, a former director of Child Life at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, was born in Aurora, Illinois. She earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and child development from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland in 1962. Wilson received a master of education degree with specialization in reading diagnosis and instruction in 1972 from Loyola College in Baltimore.
Three months before graduating from Goucher College, Wilson decided she did not want to teach in an elementary school but to work with children in an alternative setting. When she was informed of an opening that summer with The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Child Life Department, one of the few initiatives of its kind, she had never even heard of the term child life. She became a child life instructor in 1962, supervising summer volunteers, planning recreational activities for medically ill children, and directing and evaluating student nurses. In 1965, Wilson was asked to start a child life program at the Baltimore City Hospitals and directed that program until 1970 when she was appointed associate director of the Johns Hopkins Child Life Department. In 1972, she was promoted to director of Child Life and Child Development Programs supervising a staff of twenty-five. During her tenure, she helped expand a small collection of books into a resource library for children and their parents; implemented a television system to connect bedridden children to those in the playroom; and among other initiatives led the establishment of a community daycare center sponsored by The Johns Hopkins Hospital.
In 1982, Wilson and a small group of colleagues founded the Child Life Council which is now named the Association of Child Life Professionals. It was the first independent organization dedicated to advancing the child life profession. She served as the council’s founding president, and in 1992, received the organization’s Distinguished Service Award. She also was instrumental in establishing the Child Life Professional Certification Program. Wilson has served in leadership roles in additional organizations including the Maryland Committee for Children, the Baltimore Council for Children and Youth, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on hospital care, and the Family Friends Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She also published research papers on the importance of Child Life and advocated for the passage of legislation requiring insurance companies to pay for Child Life services.
She retired in 2005 as associate professor emerita of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 2012, Wilson was presented with the Alumnae and Alumni Award of Goucher College for Excellence in Public Service.