Resources in Resilience


A Child Life Specialist’s Review of Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship

By Maxwell Svec, One Summit, Director of Programs

By Maxwell Svec, One Summit, Director of Programs

Featuring a review by Julie Markarian, MS, CCLS.

Here at One Summit, we work with and deeply respect the expertise of child life specialists in our partner hospitals. Certified child life specialists (CCLS) are incredibly valuable clinicians in the world of pediatric healthcare and are highly skilled professionals in child development. CCLSs help children and families understand and cope with all manner of experiences in the hospital setting while emphasizing the power of play and the continuity of childhood throughout their medical journey. They also provide patients and families with resources, including stories and books that may help children learn lessons of strength and resilience and allow them to see themselves reflected in the pages in a beneficial and healing way.

For this Resource in Resilience, we look at a wonderful children's book through the eyes of a child life specialist. Friends of One Summit, husband and wife team Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, wrote the book Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship. Both Jessica and Patrick received below-the-knee leg amputations due to injuries they sustained during the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. The pair thereafter spent time at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center due to the severity of their injuries and their similarity to those of combat veterans. In 2014, Rescue, a very special dog, joined their family and inspired their children's book.

Julie Markarian, MS, CCLS, has been a child life specialist for seven years and has worked in several hospitals in the Boston area, including in pediatric oncology clinics and inpatient units. She was kind enough to share her review of Jessica and Patrick's book with us, as she has utilized it as a helpful resource in her clinical practice. Take a look at what Julie shared:

"What do you get when you introduce a sweet service dog to a wonderful young woman who has recently become an amputee? A lifelong friendship! Such is the sweet (and true!) story of Jessica and Rescue. Rescue the black lab thought he was meant to be a seeing-eye dog, but through his puppy training, he discovered that he was destined to be a service dog. The only question was, "For who?" Jessica's legs were badly injured and needed to be amputated. Jessica worked hard to learn how to use her prosthetic legs but was feeling frustrated about all the things she couldn't do on her own. Enter Rescue - who worked with Jessica to regain her independence, her abilities, and most importantly - her joy! Rescue and Jessica truly rescued one another and learned about the power of connection through their special bond.

Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship is a beautifully illustrated children's book that teaches kids and adults alike the power of animals, community, and support and can serve as a wonderful shared story for both disabled and non-disabled children. As a child life specialist, I love referencing this book to families looking for resources on posttraumatic growth and resilience in the face of often unthinkable moments - it's a truly powerful story!"

- Julie Markarian, MS, CCLS

Those familiar with our work here at One Summit know how much we value storytelling and believe in the power of resiliency and the perhaps unexpected positive changes that can follow a traumatic experience. In Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship, we see it all at play—the ability to bounce back, grow, and cherish the joyful things that can come to us after scary and difficult life-altering events. Without her injuries, Jessica may have never gotten to meet Rescue. Without their family's cancer journey, our little warriors probably wouldn't get the chance to meet our Navy SEAL mentors. Through the eyes of Jessica and Patrick, two incredible people who know firsthand that life can hand you unexpected hardships, we learn the value of perseverance and embracing the new situations we find ourselves in after those hardships.

Within the pages of their book, Jessica and Patrick teach kids that even though starting all over again can be frustrating and challenging, sometimes beginning again can yield the most beautiful things, just so long as you're willing to begin. We appreciate Jessica and Patrick's willingness to tell their story, specifically through the lens of a child. Kids who see themselves reflected in Jessica in the pages of their book are apt to learn the true power of posttraumatic growth.

There you have it! Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship is both One Summit and child life approved!

Do you have a great Resource in Resilience that you’d like to share with the One Summit community? Connect with Max at to tell him more about it!