'Injured', 'Sick' Teddy Bears Help Kids Get Over Fear of Doctors and Hospitals

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CAMDEN, N.J. -

“He got hurt by riding his bike, he broke his ankle and his arm,” said Ariannah Cunningham, a local kindergartner, talking about her teddy bear. “I put a band-aid on him and he feels better.”

Kindergartners today, medical professionals tomorrow.

More than 125 students from Camden’s KIPP Academy learned about medical treatments by giving treatment to their new stuffed teddy bears.

“Children are visual learners," said Michael Goodman, chairman of the department of pediatrics at the Children’s Regional Hospital of Cooper. "So the fact that they can touch, participate ... get pictures and have that teddy bear to hold, and have the teddy bear get some bandages put on them, and having the teddy bear get their ears looked at ... is a chance for them to play ... understand, and incorporate this into their future.” 

I put a band aid on him. He’s healing a little bit.


From x-rays to asthma inhalers, the kids got the chance to make their teddy bear feel better.

But the main lesson was to show the kids that the hospital ... isn’t a scary place at all, but instead a place for them to go to get healthy.

“[When] most people think about going to the doctor, [they think about] getting a shot ... crying, and not wanting to be there,” said Goodman. “But we want them to understand that being healthy and seeing a doctor is part of staying healthy and having a good life in the future.”

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As the students saw the teddy bears go through the different exams, it opened their eyes up to the doctors around them, different health experiences they may have to go through, and the process of healing.

“He forgot to put his bike helmet on and fell down,” said Vaughn Graham, Jr., a kindergartener, talking about his teddy bear. “I put a band-aid on him. He’s healing a little bit.”

“It’s just wonderful to see them ... enjoy learning, trying new things, and seeing that doctors can be their friends,” said Goodman.

The children are learning that hospitals are a place for happiness and safety, while also getting the chance to learn a few health lessons in between.

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