School children and preschoolers in Athlone will be invited to have their teddies’ vital signs checked when the Helium Arts’ Teddy Bear Clinic comes to Athlone Institute of Technology on 29 November. Student ‘teddy doctors’ from the Early Childhood Education, Social Care, and Nursing Department of AIT will be on call to treat any minor bear ailments, offering their expertise and real instruments for some imaginative doctor-play guided by the child.
Each year thousands of young children in Ireland are unexpectedly admitted to 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.
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 is produced by Helium Arts in association with Athlone Institute of technology and is funded by Westmeath County Council and Creative Ireland 2017.