This month in Bahrain, SF4C 4 MilKids (Standish Foundation for Children for Military Kids) hosted a Teddy Bear clinic for over 200 participants. SF4C 4 MilKids is a program founded and managed by SF4C Program Manager Lisa McWhorter, certified child life specialist (CCLS) and military spouse. The program focuses on transforming healthcare experiences for military children through play, education, and family support.

Lisa McWhorter explains, “SF4C 4 MilKids is a program that is near and dear to my heart as a military spouse and child life specialist. SF4C 4 MilKids provides child life resources to military connected children and families through donations to existing child life programs within military treatment facilities and offering teddy bear clinics on base and in Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) schools. It is my hope to add additional programming to arm parents and children with information, tips and tricks to help their children cope with medical experiences going forward!

Teddy bear clinics are foundational tenets of the child life professional practice. Together, medical play and teddy bear clinics provide children with opportunities to decrease fear and anxiety around medical environments and hospitalization. When able to engage in play and practice tasks, children are more open to understanding their own medical care. 

Lisa shares how she has seen worries decrease in children who attended this month’s teddy bear clinic.  “A common worry or fear for children at the doctor’s offices is getting an injection  so this scenario is played out at a teddy bear clinic. Many kids were reassuring their teddy bears or stuffies when it was time for their injection  and offering praise and a bandaid after the injection at the teddy bear clinic!

We asked Lisa about common questions children ask at a teddy bear clinic.  She shares, “‘What does this do?’ And this is a great question because it allows an opportunity to assess what the kids know and address any misconceptions they may have. Additionally, it offers an opportunity to educate about different medical tools they may see in doctors offices at future appointments and allows kids to explore and play with these tools at their pace.”

“Another question that was asked a lot was ‘When can we do this again?’ It is my hope to be able to host an annual teddy bear clinic in conjunction with the school nurses during their ‘health and wellness week’ every year at DODEA schools but also to provide a teddy bear clinic prior to and even during the flu vaccine clinic on base in the fall.”

“My kids LOVED this experience. 

It was amazing and so well thought out. The kids learned about medical equipment they had never seen before! So many questions and exploration! Thank you for all your hard work! Truly cherished experience!”

One of the  goals of SF4C is to strive to have happy, healthy, resilient children who haven’t been traumatized by healthcare experiences. This month’s teddy bear clinic in Bahrain is one example of how we foster supportive, encouraging learning environments for children to understand and better cope with their own healthcare experiences.

We are grateful for Lisa and all of the incredible hard work she does in Bahrain to support military families and their children! Lisa said, “This would not have happened without the incredible donation of medical play kits and medical supplies from SF4C, the support of the school nurses, and so much help from parents of students at the school!