Easing fears of little ones: Museum hosts annual Teddy Bear clinic for children

Saturday the Children’s Museum of Brownsville hosted some very special guests at their pavilion, a host of teddy bear patients and their child caretakers for the annual Teddy Bear Clinic.

Over the last decade, barring a cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the event has sought to remove a little of the fear that comes with going to the doctor’s office for Brownsville’s younger patients by letting them shepherd their teddy bears through a healthcare environment first.

By catering the event to children 9-years-old and under, the organizers hope to help prevent some of the fear that even adults still experience in going to the dentist or the doctor for annual checkups.

With help from volunteers like the Brownsville Police Department and the City of Brownsville’s Department of Public Health’s Wellness and Maternal and Child Health Divisions, the children alongside their cuddly friends made their way through 10 stations encompassing everything from registration to bike helmet safety and proper nutrition.

“The best way to show them how the world works is by modeling. This is a beautiful opportunity for them to be in charge of the health of their little ones, which are the teddy bears.” Ada Beltri, Education Manager for the museum said.

One thing visitors will receive for their teddy bear patients that is different from past years will be the addition of a mask and vaccine card at registration.

With Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s recent submission of COVID-19 vaccine data on children ages 5 to 11 for review to the FDA for vaccine eligibility and the ongoing pandemic, it felt like an important step to have children experience vaccines in a way they could understand and make decisions on behalf of their bears.

“There’s going to be a specific station for that because it is important to incorporate through play what our community is living through, and they do hear about the COVID vaccine. So while the vaccine card doesn’t say COVID vaccine, it is just a vaccine for their bear, they start to lose their fear of what’s going on,” Beltri said.

To add to the fun of the activities and crafts that will accompany each health station, visitors who receive a stamp at all 10 stations are entered in a raffle to win a new stuffed animal to bring home — and maybe bring back next year for their annual checkup.

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