The Centenary site of Scarborough and Rouge Hospital (SRH) hosted over 140 children at their fifth annual Teddy Bear Clinic last week. The hospital welcomed children eager to oversee the care of their stuffed toys within a hospital environment.
While it is a day of spring break fun for the kids, it is also educational, teaching kids about tests and procedures and how their bodies work. “The clinic is an event where kids get to come to the hospital from the community to learn about the different areas of the hospital that they might experience if they need to come in,” said event organizer Alex Frankel, a child life specialist with SRH. “They get to take their stuffed animal for bloodwork, x-rays, learn about MRIs and CTs, and lots of other things.”
Annie Vadivelu brought her daughter Nalynie, 9, who wants to be a family doctor. Nalynie’s favourite part of the clinic was helping her stuffed toy Fluffy get an intravenous (IV). “She likes to find out what’s going on with the body,” said Vadivelu. “She learned a lot.”
Sherr Wright shared the clinic experience with her three kids Andrew, 11, Toni, 10, and Mercedes, 2. “I heard about it on the news last year, and had to come this year for sure,” said Wright. The family brought along their “injured” bear Pedro, a bear almost as big as Toni. The two older children said they loved everything about the clinic. Andrew, who has required emergency care in the past, shared that if he were to come back to the hospital again he had learned two things: not to be scared of an IV, and how to take deep breaths to calm him down.
Kristen Cabanatan and her daughter Meghan, 3, were first-time attendees to the clinic. Meghan, who self-described as a “princess doctor,” was wearing a pink and purple stethoscope. She brought Mousey, and was excited that he had received X-rays and a cast. Her mom loved how interactive the clinic was for kids. “I think the clinic was successful in preparing Meghan for a potential doctor visit, especially for bloodwork, because that’s something she’ll eventually have to do,” said Cabanatan. “We can say ‘Remember, Mousey had his blood taken, and Mousey was brave.’”
For mom Linda Shaw-Gamble, while the event provides a day of entertainment for her children, she has seen the long-lasting educational benefits of the clinic that far outlast the event itself. The local family has attended the past two years, and the clinic has helped them with their visits to the doctor, as they now know what to expect. “They used to be really nervous going,” said Shaw-Gamble. “They are a lot calmer now, even ‘chill.’ They’re practically jumping on the scale. They even bugged me to get their flu shots this year!”
For some more highlights of this year’s event, click here for a video and photos.