WCCC Teddy Bear Clinic Bridges Children and Healthcare System

Approximately forty youths from around the community participated in Washington County Community College’s Teddy Bear Clinic on Thursday, April 12th. The Teddy Bear Clinic is a joint event hosted each year by the Early Childhood Development program and the Medical Assisting program. Children that attend receive a free teddy bear, which they then accompany to the clinic to get a checkup identical to those given at health centers. 

The goal of the event is multifold: adopting the role of caregiver, children that participate are encouraged to build empathy for their bears as they undergo the checkup. As the caregiver, the child takes their bear from station to station where Medical Assisting students let them know what will be taking place next before each procedure is conducted. For the students, it gives them the opportunity to work with children as well as to explain their tasks in a relatable way. While the Medical Assisting students are performing the checkups one at a time, the Early Childhood Development students are charged with entertaining and engaging the children that have completed or are waiting for their bear’s checkups. 

Importantly, the experience also builds a bridge for children between themselves and health centers, which can be intimidating places, as Early Childhood Development program director Linda Levesque related to the group during the introduction. “Don’t you think it’s a little bit scary to go to the doctor? But there are people that want to help you there.”

Medical Assisting Instructor Cindy Moholland explained what would be happening to the bears in a way that conveys why going to the doctor is a good thing to do. “We’re going to make sure they’re nice and healthy and strong and growing the way they should be,” Moholland said to the children. 

After the introduction, the children were clearly excited. “I want to take my bear to the clinic!” one exclaimed. 

Each bear had its temperature and blood pressure taken, its heart listened to with a stethoscope, and a shot applied to “help teddy stay healthy,” as Moholland put it. Proper medical procedure was followed at each station, down to wiping the area receiving a shot clean in advance and applying a bandage afterwards. Afterwards, every child was presented with a certificate proclaiming their bear to be “fit and healthy.”