Meet Elijah: A Special Olympic Winner, Child Life Aide and Smile Supplier

Elijah Shannon Child Life aide

Elijah Shannon, Child Life aide

Published in Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital - Summer 2023

Elijah Shannon first came to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital through a new program in 2014 called Project SEARCH. The initiative is aimed at increasing employment opportunities for qualified persons with disabilities helping them learn job and life skills. Elijah not only loved the program and skills he learned, but the hospital as well — and hasn’t left since! Get to know more about Elijah’s story, his special talents and how he is making a difference and delivering endless smiles across the organization as a Child Life aide.

What made you want to work at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital?

I heard about the Project SEARCH program, and it sounded exciting to me so I decided to come here as a student. As a Project SEARCH student, we learned things in the classroom, and I learned the work skills I needed to have a job. As a student here, I learned the basic skills of working and got to work in different departments. I wanted to work in the Child Life department because I knew some of the skills, and everyone here was so nice and taught me a lot.

What is a typical day like for you at the hospital?

I come in at 7:30 a.m. and before I start work, I get a coffee. My days are busy with a lot of things to do. My main job is to keep the playrooms clean, which involves disinfecting the toys and play spaces. I also clean the dirty toys in the soiled utility rooms in the units as well as cleaning the play mats and video games. I also help train Project SEARCH students. I help my teammates when they need it. I always consider myself the hospital greeter and make sure everyone is greeted with a hello and a smile. My favorite thing about working at the hospital is being with my coworkers, that I now call my friends. Everyone is so friendly and happy here, and I enjoy that.

Do you have any special talents?

I have been participating in the Special Olympics since I was in middle school and it keeps me in shape. I recently competed in the state Special Olympics in Orlando. I competed in 100-meter run and shot put. It was a hot day and there were a lot of participants there. We participated in a ceremony and we had a dance at the end of the competition. I won fourth place in shot put and second place in 100-meter run.

Also, I can dance. … I really like break dancing. I can sing and I like to sing church songs and R&B songs. 

What else do you want people to know about you?

I am kind and I am happy to meet people and share my joy and kindness.