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Alyvia, 2, and Lily, 3, listen as Trish Burkes, a home visitor with Marine Corps Community Services, reads Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? The children were attending the Teddy Bear Clinic in the New Parent Support program offices aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico. The event, which had a story station, a stuffed-animal check-up station, a yoga station, and a “bear-havioral” health station, was held in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Photo by Adele Uphaus-Conner

Quantico children take their stuffed animals to the Teddy Bear Clinic

13 Apr 2016 | Adele Uphaus-Conner Marine Corps Base Quantico

“Bear”havioral therapist Amanda Norah wrote out a prescription on a sheet of paper.

“I think your Teddy needs three hugs to feel better,” she told Abigail, 3. Abigail obliged, giving her stuffed bear, which is as big as she is, three tight squeezes with her whole body.

“Aww, great job,” Norah told her.

Abigail and her big bear were attending the Teddy Bear Clinic, held Apr. 8 and sponsored by the New Parent Support Program (NPSP). Children were invited to bring their favorite stuffed animals in for a physical check-up and quick session with the “bear”havioral therapist. Other stations at the event included a craft table, a story-time corner, and a kid’s yoga class. The event was also meant to introduce parents to the many resources available to them and their children through Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS).

Scarlett, 3, brought her puppy Rocky to the check-up. “Say ‘aah,’” she told Rocky, holding a dentist’s mirror to his mouth. Karielis, 2, administered shots to her Abby Cadabby doll, as well as her to mother and various bystanders. Miguel, 2, thought his panda needed two simultaneous shots.

Kathy Olson, NPSP manager, said the Teddy Bear Clinic is one of the program’s mainstays. It has been held annually for at least five years in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“It’s to promote wellness,” she said. “At the different stations, we’re modeling activities parents can do with children. We’re modeling how to talk about feelings.”

At the “bear”havioral therapist station, Norah asked the children to point to the picture that represented how their stuffed animal or doll was feeling. They chose from a series of pictures of a bear’s face depicting happiness, sadness, anger, boredom, surprise and sickness.

Olson said the event was also meant to promote social support for parents.

“Social connections are an important protective factor against child abuse,” she said. “We want parents to know they can reach out if they need assistance.”

— Writer:

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