Yesterday I helped out with my first Teddy Bear Clinic. As a Child Life Student, I had obviously heard about Teddy Bear Clinics. But it was so incredible to see the kids experience the clinic firsthand instead of watching YouTube highlights of other hospital’s events. There were 11 stations that the kids visited with their Teddy Bears. These stations could be attended in any order and the kiddos could also skip any areas that they thought their bear didn’t need.
- Registration. This is where the bears received their name and passport. The name band was similar to the ones that the patients wore and the bear’s name was written on it in Sharpie before it was attached to their furry paw. The passport had blank areas for the bear’s name, his/her place of birth (zoo or in the wild) and the weight/height of the bear. The rest of the passport had all the stations listed and the stations would stamp the passport when the bear visited them.
- Height/Weight. After receiving their bear, the children would take their new friend to one of the nurses who placed the bear on a scale and also measured it’s height. This information was recorded on the top of the passport.
- Doctor’s Office. At the doctor’s office, the doctor used a stethoscope to check the bear’s heartbeat. He reported to the child how their bear was doing and also wrote a prescription on the passport. For example, the doctor heard one of the bear’s stomach growling and suggested that the child and bear eat some chicken nuggets together.
- X-Ray. The X-Ray section had a back-lit area to look at x-rays of a variety of human body parts and also an x-ray of a Teddy Bear.
- Healthcare Play. This area was for the kids to place an IV on their bear. There were tourniquets, arm boards, IV tubing, tape and band-aids. Since this Teddy Bear Clinic was in the hospital, most of the kids had IVs or had them in the past. So this station was something that they all understood from personal experience.
- Labs. When in the hospital, the nurses are frequently taking labs so that the doctors can get a better idea of what is going on. The lab station was a spot for children to make a vial of Teddy Bear blood that they could keep. Using baby oil and glitter, the children made a wand that looked like it had sparkly blood in it.
- Surgery. At the surgery station, there was a small bed for the bear. The bear received a hair net like the children wear for surgery and the child was able to choose which scent their bear might want for the anesthesia mask. The bear then received some bandages from the surgeon before returning to their owner.
- Music Therapy. The music therapy was mainly for the child. The music therapists brought out a variety of musical instruments and the children were allowed to express themselves with any instrument that they wanted to try. Some children spent a short time here and others spent most of the time playing on the drums.
- Dentist. At the dentist station, there were x-rays of mouths/teeth. The dentist checked over the bear’s teeth before giving the child a little baggie with toothpaste, toothbrush and a mirror to look at teeth. The small mirror was a favorite of the kids.
- Ortho. The ortho section was where the teddy bears received casts. These casts were put on arm, legs, heads, whatever part of the teddy bear that the child thought they needed a cast. One little girl’s teddy bear received a cast that matched hers, same color and same injured area.
- Therapy Dog. The hospital that hosted the Teddy Bear Clinic had a therapy dog on staff, so he came to hang out with the patients. The children loved seeing the dog, so having him in a central location allowed more children to visit and interact with him.
The Teddy Bear Clinic was an opportunity for the children to learn more about the hospital, but also for them to exert some control over medical procedures. There was one little child that wanted to do everything himself instead of letting the surgeon/doctor/nurse perform the procedure on the teddy bear. He wanted to be hands on and helping care for the bear.
Have you run or helped out with a Teddy Bear Clinic before? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas as this is something I plan to do again in the future!