Waiting in a doctor’s office to be pricked and poked can be a very scary thing, even for adults. But for young children, fear of a simple doctor’s appointment can be intense.
Unfortunately, it may not take a lot of bad experiences to associate the doctor with boo-boos, bruises, and long, sharp needles. Student Health Outreach is determined to change that.
On Friday, May 18, Student Health Outreach hosted its first Teddy Bear Clinic at Madison Elementary School in Santa Ana. Using funds from a health education grant from the Student Health Center, the organization bought 100 teddy bears and distributed them to two classes at the elementary school.
Five stations were created in the classroom, each addressing one of the following topics: height and weight, temperature, eyes and ears, heart and lungs, and blood pressure.
Children were allowed to visit all five stations, where volunteers explained why the station’s medical procedures were relevant. Stations were also equipped with stethoscopes, otoscopes and blood pressure cuffs to let kids act out each routine on their teddy bears, showing them how harmless an appointment with the doctor could be.
The event, coordinated by Judith Lau and Sam Cordiero, turned out to be quite successful. One young girl at the elementary school became upset when she thought that volunteers were nurses from a hospital.
Once volunteers calmed her down, she was able to go through the stations and hug volunteers with glee.
Other students proved to be just as content, both with their new teddy bears and a newly attained comfort with medicine.
Indu Kannan, a fourth-year biological science major and president of Student Health Outreach, says that ‘even if only one child will not be traumatized the next time they go to the doctor’s [office], this program was a success.’
The children of Madison Elementary, as in other parts of Santa Ana, are not as privileged as the stereotypical Orange County kids. This just adds to the benefits that students can receive from the program.
Kinh La-Pham, a second-year ecology and evolutionary biology major and fundraising coordinator of Student Health Outreach, said, ‘There are so many areas in Orange County that are much less fortunate than cities like Irvine and Newport. These underprivileged communities need our help, and Student Health Outreach provides that by educating the young children.’
‘These kids are in underserved schools and as a result usually do not receive programs like this,’ Kannan said.
Second-year psychology major Brandi Ly also pointed out another perk, saying, ‘Not only does this program familiarize the children with the doctor, but it could spark an interest in the children.’ Kannan adds that ‘these kids are in underserved schools and as a result usually do not receive programs like this.’
Second-year psychology major Brandi Ly points out another perk of the program. ‘Not only does this program familiarize children with the doctor, but it could spark an interest in the children.’
This event did not just benefit children who received teddy bears, but teachers and volunteers as well. ‘The teachers were so excited to see that someone had considered coming to their school instead of perhaps a nicer school in a better location,’ says Kannan. Volunteers had a good time teaching and playing with kids, while gaining some community service hours.
Lau highly recommends the clinic, ‘I would definitely recommend a student to participate in this event, especially those who enjoy working with children.’
Lizette De Ramos, Student Health Outreach secretary and fourth-year biological sciences major, said that through this event ‘students have a way of helping out their surrounding communities. As students, we don’t really have the power to do things a physician might do, so even just showing kids what happens when they go on doctors’ visits to make them feel more comfortable is worthwhile.’
The Teddy Bear Clinic is one of several events held by Student Health Outreach in their mission to spread health awareness and create health programs for disadvantaged communities.
Future plans for the Teddy Bear Clinic include offering it quarterly and increasing the number of schools involved in the program. Student Health Outreach, which was started in winter quarter 2007, is also in the process of creating more health events, including a free health fair in Anaheim.
Student Health Outreach holds meetings on the Wednesdays of odd weeks at 6:30 p.m. in SH 128. Visit their Web site http://ucisho.googlepages.com.