Not everyone can educate a child on the ins and outs of an upcoming surgery. Child Life can. And medical play is one of the ways in which they are able to do this.

A Child Life Specialist will use medical play as a tool to ease anxiety their young patients experience about the equipment surrounding them and what they might expect during their stay in the hospital. With items such as a stethoscope, doctor’s hats, gloves, masks, BAND-AIDS, doctor kits, and Bears typically included in a play exploration, medical play allows patients to become familiar with medical items that they will later be exposed to. Children can also be intimidated by big and unfamiliar terms they hear doctors and nurses using. Through medical play, Child Life Specialists are able to explain these, including diagnoses, in a way children are able to understand.

To help the Child Life Community in facilitating medical play, enCourage Kids provides Bears, free of cost, to hospitals around the country. As a hand to hold while being examined by a doctor, the Bear brings comfort in a clinical setting, and is used as a teaching tool to take the fear out of a procedure.

Nicole Almeida, Director of the Child Life Program at The Children’s Medical Center at Winthrop University Hospital says, “We had given one of our patients a Bear earlier in her stay and she became quite attached to it. When my team went in to prepare her for the IV, we used the Bear to explain all of the steps in what was to happen. Organically, a conversation arose and we started talking to Beary. The young girl spoke through Beary and was able to describe what was really making her nervous, which was the needle. The Child Life Specialist asked Beary, ‘what may help you feel less afraid?’ Her reply was to sit on mom’s lap and look the other way when the needle is placed.”

enCourage Kids has distributed more than 34,500 to hospitalized children through our partners in the Child Life Community, and we look forward to continuing to providing this source of comfort and supporting them through this program.

Have you used a Bear in the hospital or in medical play? We would love to hear your story! You can email our Communications Manager, Mallory, or comment on this post.