On 19 and 20 January children from twenty-five local primary schools flocked to NUI Galway’s 12th annual Teddy Bear Hospital with over a thousand sick teddies in tow.
The event is organised each year by NUI Galway’s Sláinte Society, the university’s branch of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations. The society recruited a team of over 200 medical and science students armed with ‘pawscriptions’ to volunteer to diagnose and cure the sick teddies on the day.
Each year, the aim of the Teddy Bear Hospital is to help young children feel more comfortable around doctors and familiarise them with hospital-like settings. According to the society’s co-audior Sally Cahill, the demand to attend the event has risen significantly over the years with over 1,300 children attending this year.
Speaking to SIN before the event, Cahill explained the organisation process behind the society’s biggest event of the year.
She said; “Since September, the committee have worked tirelessly to arrange sponsorship for the event, organise a timetable for schools and liaise with the Societies Office to ensure every fine detail is covered.
“We are so grateful to the 200 volunteers who will assist us in treating the sick teddies of Galway this week and hope that they enjoy the event as much as we have in the past.”
Children and their sick teddies were greeted at the ‘waiting room’ where they were entertained by jugglers and face painters before meeting their medical team. Special teddy x-rays and MRI machines were available to teddies in need along with a host of medical supplies sponsored by Matt O’Flaherty Chemist.
A fully-equipped on-site Teddy Bear Pharmacy stocked with fruit from Burke’s Fruit and Veg and Fyffes also provided aid to the teddies and their owners.
The two-day event also invited the staff of NUI Galway to bring their children ranging from 3 to 8 years old to the Bailey Allen Hall to take part.
NUI Galway Societies Officer Ríona Hughes offered her congratulations to Sláinte Society on their 12th successful year. She said, “The Teddy Bear Hospital is a magical opportunity for the society to invite the children and their teddies to campus and provide a valuable learning experience for all.
“It is one of the NUI Galway societies’ most colourful and endearing community outreach programmes and we are thrilled with its success.”
-By Aisling Bonner