On the day students set up six different stations manned by Monash medical students that ‘parents’ (the children) and their teddies move through. For the next fifteen minutes children can vicariously undergo the hospital experience with the security of a trusted teddy friend by their side. They are taught basic hygiene such as scrubbing up, learn about x-rays and plastering, and even practice administering needles to teddy.
Although the kids’ natural curiosity and excitement is evident, according to second year representative and resident teddy bear mascot Annie Chen, this last part can be the most intimidating to the five- to six-year-old children involved, who have already experienced vaccinations at this age.
“Because there’s not always time at the hospital, this is a good way to teach the children that hospitals don’t have to be scary and that needles don’t have to hurt,” she says.
Educating children about how and when to call an ambulance is another important aspect of the program. The kids were given a take home pack on the day, which included ambulance instructions and further consolidated the day’s many lessons.
For the students, who are currently learning health education in the classroom, this proved an inspiring and memorable educational experience, one that the organisers hope will stay with them.
The Teddy Bear Hospital pilot program was such a success that the committee is looking to expand it in the years to come. Clayton North Primary is keen to endorse the program so that other schools can experience the unique learning experience that the Teddy Bear Hospital brings to a classroom