WEST ORANGE, NJ – More than 200 area children had the opportunity to travel close to home, at the “Around the World!” Teddy Bear Clinic held at the Saint Barnabas Medical Center on Wednesday, July 20.
The fifth annual event is held to help decrease stress and anxiety for children visiting hospitals at any capacity, and to teach them positive coping skills.
Children who attended brought their favorite teddy bear or other stuffed animal, and the toy was checked through at 16 different stations, to help them learn about the entire hospital experience.
“It teaches them about what happens, and what it feels like with an illness or diagnosis,” said Danielle Martello, a Child Life Specialist at Saint Barnabas.
The child life department helps children to adjust better to their hospital stay, whether in outpatient, the emergency room, or inpatient, and provides programs including music, art, pet, and clown therapies, scrapbooking, and jewelry making. The group offers support to children as small as newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), as well as siblings of children who are hospitalized.
Each child was given a “passport” for their visit, which was earmarked on the front with their stuffed toy’s name. They took their toys to each of the individual stations, where the toy received a hospital bracelet, and the children learned about x-rays, how intravenous medications are administered, having their weight taken, nebulizers, having blood pressure and temperatures checked, how a hospital bed operates, facts about proper hand washing, nutrition and exercise, and much more.
After visiting each station, stickers from each of the stations were placed in the children's passports.
Members of the West Orange Fire Department from Fire Station #3 (Saint Cloud), gave tours of a fire engine, and explained to children who attended about the contents of the fire truck. Children also had the opportunity to sit in the fire engine, and pose for photos.
Each child who attended received a goody bag at the end of their visit, filled with healthy snacks, coloring books, a jump rope, and educational items from the fire department. The fire department also provided bags for parents, with information about fire safety, including tot finder stickers, and a smoke detector.
Justin and Jade Martin from The Justin Charity Bear Fund passed out bears to each child. Justin said he started the foundation to give bears to children who are ill and less fortunate. Each bear is constructed at Build-A-Bear in Bridgewater, NJ.
The Teddy Bear clinic is supported by The John La Conti, M.D. Child Life Fund, and is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, and Toys R Us, and In Kind Sponsors Sodexo, and Whole Foods in Montclair.
“What makes today so successful is that you have volunteers within the community coming in and showing children a trip to Saint Barnabas Medical Center is nothing to worry about or fear,” said Laura Lark of the Saint Barnabas Medical Center Foundation. “I think this is what makes Saint Barnabas such a great place.”
For more information about Saint Barnabas Health Care System, see: http://www.saintbarnabas.com/