Teddy Bear Clinic Helps Children through Imaginative Play

Teddy Bear Clinic Helps Children through Imaginative Play

Children were invited to have their Teddies’ vital signs checked from student ‘teddy doctors’ from the various nursing and childcare programmes in AIT

School children in Athlone were recently invited to have their teddies’ vital signs checked when the Helium Arts’ Teddy Bear Clinic visited Athlone Institute of Technology on 29 November. Student ‘teddy doctors’ from the Early Childhood Education, Social Care, and Nursing Department of AIT were on call to treat any minor bear ailments, offering their expertise and real instruments for some imaginative doctor-play guided by the child.

Denise Macgiollari Creative Arts Lecturer AIT said that, “The Teddy Bear Clinic is a wonderful learning opportunity for AIT Early Years, Social care and Nursing students. Being able to engage in an imaginative and creative way with young children is a skill students need to have in their work. The Teddy bear Clinic brings the real and imaginative worlds together to create an interactive space for both the children and the students. This space is full of potential, fun, discovery and play and the event will live on in the memory of both the students and the children.”

Each year thousands of young children in Ireland are unexpectedly admitted to the hospital through A&E Departments. These admissions are neither planned nor prepared for and can increase the distress, fear, and anxiety that children experience under these circumstances. All children in Ireland attend their GP for both routine and non-routine purposes. For very young children, this new experience can be very frightening. Children can develop long-lasting phobias and fears which can cause noncompliance in terms of treatment and a refusal to return for doctor appointments.

Helene Hugel, Artistic Director of Helium Arts said, “The Teddy Bear Clinic provides children with opportunities for imaginative and creative play around the medical experience so they can become familiar and take ownership of what could be scary and unknown. The Clinic uses quality arts processes which incorporate telling Teddy’s story, imaginative role play, and art making. Children learn creative coping skills and parents pick up a few fun tips to continue the play at home!”

As part of the engaging workshop children were invited to have their Teddies’ vital signs checked and student ‘teddy doctors’ from the various nursing and childcare programmes available at AIT and encouraged to get a lift in the Teddy ambulance, create their own Teddy medical record, examine their Ted, and observe aTeddie x-ray.

The Helium Arts’ Teddy Bear Clinic puts the child at the centre of a Carer-Patient imaginative role play, as the minder of their Teddy, to absorb self-care skills, first-aid, and to
better understand basic medical procedures they might experience at the GP or hospital. Children become less fearful, more positive and parents are happy knowing that the next trip to the doctor or nurse could be more relaxing.

Helium Arts’ Teddy Bear Clinic was produced by Helium Arts in association with Athlone Institute of Technology and is funded by Westmeath County Council and Creative Ireland 2017.

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