“Cool Career” Spotlight - Athena Magazine for Girls
by Emily Long
When you or I hear the word “massage,” we probably think of a relaxing spa treatment accompanied by aromatherapy candles, scented lotions, and soft music. However, in practice, massage isn’t just about pleasure. Tina Allen, Founder and Director of the Liddle Kidz Foundation, educates parents, healthcare providers, and volunteers about the therapeutic and developmental benefits of pediatric and infant massage.
Tina explained that, contrary to common belief, infant and pediatric massage isn’t focused entirely on relaxation. “[In infant massage] these techniques help the family to bond, and also create great benefits for the infant by stimulating healthy growth, development and aiding in sleeping. Pediatric Massage differs from infant massage as it is designed to provide comfort and compassionate for children who have special healthcare needs, are hospitalized or in hospice/palliative care.”
Tina began as a volunteer with the Heart Touch Project, where she provided massage sessions to HIV/AIDS patients, children with special needs, and senior citizens. After serving on the Heart Touch Project board of directors, Tina held a variety of leadership positions in children’s massage programs at Los Angeles hospitals. In these roles, she recognized the national and global need for programs targeted directly to infants, children, and their caregivers, and from this she began the Liddle Kidz Foundation. Tina says, “I saw a great big hole in how we were interacting with and treating children in our society. Especially the treatment of children with special healthcare needs. Much of the compassion and caring had been removed from the healthcare system. The Liddle Kidz Foundation began as an answer to the great lack of nurturing touch and connection in our society, and to encourage improvements in children’s health and welfare.”
In addition to healthcare-based US programs, the Foundation sends volunteers to provide care and education around the world, from Thailand to Belarus. “We give back to the world community by organizing International Volunteer Global Outreach events. During these events, the Liddle Kidz Foundation takes groups of trained volunteers overseas to work in pediatric hospices, orphanages and hospitals. These volunteers provide hands-on care for infants and children, and education for caregivers.” Tina also feels strongly about bringing the concepts of healthy touch into US schools.
While any foundation or non-profit starts small, they have the potential to have a global impact. This is exactly what Tina has done with Liddle Kidz. “We are now widely recognized as the premier nurturing touch organization. Our certifications and trainings are held and recognized internationally. Throughout the world there is a great need of getting back to basic human contact. Somehow along the way, much of this communication and connection has been lost. It is inspiring to see others recognize this need as well.”
Tina spends her busy days teaching, traveling the world, speaking at conferences, touring hospitals, and supporting the needs of the Liddle Kidz Foundation through grantwriting and working with donors. Every now and then, she also gets to practice the techniques that brought her to where she is today. To keep up with the demands on her time and energy, she is supported by her husband, family, and the hundreds who believe in Liddle Kidz’s mission.
So what is Tina’s message to you? “You’ve got to be tough, stick to your guns and believe in your mission. As in any venture, there are challenges that need to be met, and having a strong work ethos gets it done. Finding your passion and believing that what you are doing is making a difference, makes getting up and going to work each day possible. When I started Liddle Kidz Foundation, I began with the thought that one person can truly make a difference and I have found this to be true.”