Hello, my name is Hannah and I’m a third-year medical student at Swansea University and the founder of the Swansea Teddy Bear Hospital. My passion for starting up the Teddy Bear Hospital stemmed from an assignment which involved examining a child with a chronic health condition. I learnt about how this child had become scared of any dealings with medical staff and this at times affected the treatment she could receive. I therefore wanted to help educate children early on about the interactions they may have with the GP and in hospitals. I felt that an early introduction to healthcare would help to alleviate any stress and worries these situations may cause.
So, what exactly is the Teddy Bear Hospital?
The Teddy Bear Hospital is a voluntary project run by university students. We know that visiting hospitals or the doctor’s surgery can be very worrying for young children, and for that reason, the Teddy Bear Hospital tries to provide a fun, friendly and relaxed platform for children to experience these settings.
Children aged 4-11 years old are encouraged to bring their ‘poorly’ teddies to visit the Teddy Bear Hospital. Through a range of small group stations, we take the children on a journey of a poorly teddy. We start by identifying dangers in a house, who to call if someone gets injured and the professionals they may meet as they progress through a GP practice or hospital.
The volunteers then guide the children through finding a diagnosis, talk them through basic anatomy, what investigations to do and then write up a ‘pawscription’ for a cuddle! The bear may need a bandage or a plaster cast which the children can apply at one of the stations.
We aim to make all of our sessions as interactive as possible to keep the children engaged and create a fun environment. For example, as part of diagnosing teddy, we show children what a stethoscope does and how their heart rate increases after exercise by setting up a mini obstacle course. Finally, we focus on keeping teddy health going forward, by incorporating education around healthy eating, lifestyle habits and hand washing.
One of our most popular stations involves Dr Teddy, the anatomy teddy bear. We created a custom teddy stuffed full of felt organs to give the children an interactive experience of what is inside our bodies. This also introduces discussions around
Do you want to get involved?
The Teddy Bear Hospital has so far made appearances at local primary schools and science festivals however we hope to soon branch out into afterschool clubs including cubs, guides and brownies.
One of our lovely volunteers modelling our Anatomy Apron at the Oriel Science Fair 2020. This is another interactive resource we use with the children to help them learn what makes us up.
We are always looking for new students to join our team, so we can reach more children. All of our volunteers attend a training session to ensure they are comfortable with the format of the stations, and we encourage students to put their own spin on the sessions. We also help organise DBS checks. If you want to get involved follow us on Facebook by searching “Teddy Bear Hospital Swansea” and join our society on the Swansea Student’s Union page.
If you are a school/group interested in the Teddy Bear Hospital visiting, you can contact us.