Bear Program: enCouraging Comfort

By giving hospitalized kids a warm, cuddly companion to help them through their stay, our Bears encourage comfort in an otherwise clinical setting.

“When we come into a room – especially on the inpatient unit – and present a bear to a patient, you instantly see a smile,” shares Angie Silipigno, a Child Life Specialist at Albany Medical Center. When a patient is nervous or crying, they often see a friend in our Bears smiling face. “A teddy bear is such a tremendous source of comfort and for us to have one available at that perfect moment – through laughter or tears, a bear always has its place.”

“What is really nice about the bears is that once they are handed to the patient, then the patient now has ownership of that bear and is invited to use it as they want,” shares Morgan Stojanowski, a Child Life Specialist at Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai.

enCourage Kids BearsEach Bear is individually wrapped, meeting hospital protocols for health standards. According to Cheryl Strauss, also a Child Life Specialist at Kravis, “We have many patients who have gone off to surgery with their new bear feeling more comfortable and secure that they have someone that can go with them to the OR.”

In addition, medical practitioners see the Bear as a great tool in helping to demonstrate procedures so that patients feel they have more control over their experience.

“Our hospital partners have shown us how our programs can be used in ways that we never would have imagined,” explains enCourage Kids Executive Director Michele Hall-Duncan. “We found that they started to use our Bears to teach patients about their care. To ease a child’s fears with a stuffed toy is absolutely incredible.”