Some 950 children from 24 primary schools in the city and county will bring their ailing or wounded bears to a special teddybear hospital being run by medical students at NUI Galway on Thursday and Friday January 29 and 30.
The aim of the two day event - which is in its fourth year and is aimed at children aged three to seven years - is to help dispel their fears about hospitals.
More than 150 students will volunteer their time at the hospital - which is organised by the university’s medical and health sciences students - to explain (with Teddy’s help ) how treatments, such as x-rays, work.
Event organiser, fifth year medical student Donna Cummins, has been involved with the project since its inception.
“People are usually scared of the unknown and hospitals are places that children in particular don’t know a lot about. By bandaging Teddy’s arm, x-raying his leg or taking a teddy MRI, we can illustrate to children what doctors and nurses in hospitals do.”
She says feedback from parents and teachers over the years has been “overwhelmingly positive”, she says.
“ We know the Teddy Bear Hospital really benefits the children. For us medical students this has to be one of the highlights of the year. We get to volunteer, help out the kids, and diagnose teddy bear maladies. We have had so much support from students across campus, our sponsors and from the university. With the extra day this year, it will simply be double the fun.”
The Teddy Bear Hospital will also feature a Teddy Pharmacy, stocked with nourishing vitamin juices and healthy treats. Smyth’s Toys will provide toys for the “waiting room”, these will be donated to Cope after the event. An Order of Malta ambulance will be on show for the children outside the hospital.
Students from various NUI Galway societies will volunteer their time for face-painting, juggling and bouncy castle activities.
Ríona Hughes, NUI Galway societies officer, says the Teddy Bear Hospital is an excellent example of how student societies at the university can engage with the community in exciting and creative ways.
“ This event has gone from strength to strength each year. It is of huge benefit to our medical students and to the local schools and children who participate in this fun event.”
NUI Galway has 89 active societies through which students make friends, pursue their interests, learn new skills and organise events such as the Teddy Bear Hospital. The college also runs the ALIVE Programme which helps students find further volunteering opportunities with community organisations.