Hundreds of children – and their favourite furry pals - are already inside the Teddy Bears Hospital as we arrive at Firth Court for the family drop-in session on Saturday afternoon.
The enormous room, at the Western Bank venue, has been split into a number of stations, and – after a quick visit to the face paint station (of course) at the entrance – four-year-old Imogen eagerly grabs her trail map, and her faithful monkey George, and we’re on our way.
Student doctors from the University of Sheffield have been holding this fun, interactive event annually for a number of years, aimed at reducing childhood anxiety about hospitals and doctors, and promoting child health, as well as giving student doctors valuable experience working with children.
This year’s hospital is bigger and better than ever, with a number of triage stations set up, where Imogen and George can have a one-to-one consultation with a GP, listening to George’s heart and taking his blood pressure, before visiting radiology for an MRI, and getting George all bandaged up.
There is also chance for Imogen to talk about when, how, and why to call 999, to discuss her feelings and fears, and to learn about the importance of healthy eating and exercise.
She helps assemble organs on an anatomy board, takes a peek through bathroom cabinets with doctors who help her sort items into ones she can use, and ones she shouldn’t touch, and even takes a visit to the pharmacy for a gift bag of goodies.
She gets a lesson in road safety, has her eyes checked, learns about the importance of brushing your teeth well, and even gets the chance to try it herself with an oversized mouth and brush. Right at the end, she even has the chance to dress up in full surgical clothes and perform some much-needed surgery on poor George.
90 minutes after we arrived, Imogen has had a great time, and has also learned a lot. As have we. We’ve already sat down since at home and had a more in-depth discussion about emergencies, who to call, and how to use mummy and daddy’s phones to reach people.
The session, which always runs for free, ran from 10am to 4pm, and was aimed at children aged three to eight, through everyone was welcome.
Dr Georgia, one of Sheffield’s ‘Teddy Doctors,’ said: “This event is always so well attended – we had over 800 children turn out last year for the Teddy Bear Hospital. It was so nice to see so many smiles on faces today, the children and Teddy Doctors have really enjoyed it and everyone’s had a great day.”