Teddy bear clinic entertains children at AIT

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 November 29. 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 at AIT, said: “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.”

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 cause distress, fear, and anxiety in children. 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.

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 with 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 encouraged to get a lift in the teddy ambulance, create their own teddy medical record, examine their ted, and observe a teddie x-ray.

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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