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Teddy Bear Hospital: Students teach local children about health and safety

Thursday 29 May 2014

Children bring their teddies to the Teddy Bear Hospital

On Wednesday 30 April children from three Tower Hamlets primary schools attended a safety day at the Whitechapel campus run by undergraduate medical and dental students. The annual event is run by Teddy Bear Hospital, a student volunteering society which aims to help children lose their fear of doctors and dentists in a playful way, while also educating them on topics including healthy eating, oral hygiene and hand-washing.

Around 100 children from three local schools – Shapla Primary School, St Paul’s Primary school and St John’s Primary school – attended the day, which also featured presentations from the police and fire service, and included the chance for the children to explore a fire engine.

On the day children able to ‘treat’ their ‘sick’ teddies using the Teddy Bear Hospital’s very own MRI machine and X-ray machine. They were also able to enjoy interactive educational games in the Centre of the Cell, Queen Mary’s award-winning science education centre.

The children were able to meet the White Watch firefighters, London Ambulance and Neonatal Transfer team, and Tower Hamlets police officers. Meeting the police horses, using the firefighters’ hose and entering the neonatal ambulance gave the children an educational, yet exciting experience.

Students from the Teddy Bear Hospital

Humaa Kazim, current President of the Teddy Bear Hospital and fourth year Dental student explained how the Teddy Bear Hospital works: ‘The Teddy Bear Hospital runs fortnightly clinics throughout the year where we set up a make shift hospital at schools in Tower Hamlets. Children are asked to bring in their ‘sick’ teddies, who we then aim to ‘treat’ together. The ultimate aim is to reduce the fear children have of the doctor or dentist.’

‘All of our volunteers, including myself, look forward to our spectacular annual event Safety Day, with great anticipation! It is always heart-warming to see everyone come together to make sure the children have a truly enjoyable time. For myself, it has been a wonderful, memorable year and I am proud to have been a part of such a great volunteering society.’

The annual Safety Day was the last event of the year. However, medical and dental students at Barts and The London can get involved in the next academic year by attending the Recruitment Day. The Teddy Bear Hospital welcomes all staff and student interest, as this can only help Teddy Bear Hospital grow further.

A representative from Thomas Buxton Primary School, who have participated in Teddy Bear Hospital events throughout the year, spoke of the initiative: ‘Its a wonderful way of demystifying healthcare for children in an area where poor public health and poverty are serious issues.’

For more information on Teddy Bear Hospital visit www.teddybear-hospital.co.uk.

For more information about Queen Mary Students’ Union other Volunteering groups, visit: www.qmsu.org/volunteering.

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