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Teddy bear hospital introduces children to world of healthcare

10:26 06/03/2023

A special "hospital" for teddy bears in Brussels is celebrating its 10th edition this year.

The unique clinic allows four- to seven-year-old children to bring their stuffed animals (such as a teddy bear) in for "treatment" in order to learn about a hospital environment through play.

"Children are always impressed at first and then reassured to see that everything is going well, that their teddy bear is not in pain," said Amélie Tummers, spokeswoman for the Teddy Bear Clinic.

More than 6,000 stuffed companions have been treated in the special clinic since its creation in 2012.

It was first launched by Jérôme Duisit, assistant doctor at the Saint-Luc University Clinics, in conjunction with initiatives Kots Pédiakot and Kot Libellule and with support from UCLouvain.

The idea originates in Germany, where a teddy bear hospital has existed since 2000. Each year, children are invited to come visit with cuddly toys and get a tour of the hospital and some demonstrations of treatment.

The initative’s aim is to familiarise children with the world of healthcare in order to demystify it and hopefully assuage any anxieties they may have around hospital environments, either due to their own need for treatment or that of a loved one.

At the Saint-Luc clinics in Brussels, the teddy bear hospital is expecting almost 1,000 children to visit over three days, from 7-9 March, when it operates. The temporary clinic was a two-day event in the past but now takes place over three days.

Two and a half of those days are dedicated to school visits, while Wednesday afternoon is reserved for parents wishing to bring their children.

With 350 medical students, children will experience a tour of the hospital from the ambulance to the operating room, along with visits to a consultation room and radiology departments. They will learn about physiotherapy, blood tests, and other practices.

Written by Helen Lyons