Over the past three years, Mitee and her band of volunteers have brought the engaging health education program to children at childcare centres, kindergartens and schools in Atherton, Bowen, Charters Towers, Collinsville, Ingham, Innisfail, Mossman, Mount Isa, Proserpine, Sarina. Despite interruptions to the program during the COVID pandemic, students facilitated 21 sessions across 17 educational facilities in 10 rural locations.
Four interactive stations are chosen out of six deliverable stations to ensure the education is appropriate to the age group of the target audience. Happy Healthy Teddies introduces children to equipment they might see in doctors’ offices and familiarised them with day-to-day primary care interactions they might have with health professionals.
“The kids are so excited to have visitors. For them, it’s a change from their usual day-to-day activities and for the medical students, it’s an excellent opportunity to get involved in their local community.”
Mitee volunteered with JCUMSA for the Teddy Bear Hospital program in her first and second year of medicine and coordinated the program for JCUMSA in third year. “I made a few changes to the program, added two extra stations and increased the number of visits we do in the year. That was the year I came up with the idea of applying to the Rural Doctors Foundation for this grant. I used the core stations I had made that year for the JCUMSA Teddy Bear Hospital, and changed them a little bit to be more appropriate to be able to be put in kits and taken to the rural locations easily.”
Mitee said her goal was to get as many medical students or other healthcare students involved in the program as possible. “In the end, I want the program to run itself. The students who are volunteering will be able to call a childcare centre, introduce themselves, ask if they’re interested in the program and organise to came along and present a session."
JCU medical students interested in running a Happy Healthy Teddies session while on placement can contact JCUMSA from 2023.