A charity donating thousands of teddies to hospitals across New Zealand brought its attention to Northland last week.
Teddies For Loving Care (TLC) is driven by members of the Freemasons society. TLC began in the UK after Freemason Ian Simpson’s wife was saved in ED from a near-fatal swelling of the throat. Ian resolved to give something back to hospitals and realised teddy bears could make it easier to keep children positive and cooperative while experiencing what is often a painful and distressing visit to the ED. As part of worldwide celebrations of the 300th anniversary of the Freemasons in 2017, Tony Mansfield and Freemason brothers decided to bring TLC to New Zealand. After trialling teddy donations at hospitals in Gisborne, Rotorua, Bay of Plenty and Waikato, TLC gave its first batch of teddies to Northland hospitals on January 31.
Though Tony is based at the Prince of Wales Lodge in Auckland, support for TLC came from the more than 200 lodges across the country.
Around 25000 teddies are to be ordered per year, just for NZ alone, and TLC are trying to direct the teddies towards smaller regional and rural hospitals which don’t receive as many toy donations as hospitals in larger centres.
Tony said teddies are an ideal toy because they’re universally accepted as a symbol of comfort for children. “It’s a traditional soft toy loved by kids. It isn’t tied to gender or ethnicity – who doesn’t like teddy bears?”
The Northland TLC donation began with six boxes of teddies, totalling around 430, half of which will stay in Whangarei’s ED while one box each to an accident and medical departments in Kawakawa and Kaitaia and Dargaville Hospital. 650 under-15-year-olds per month come through the ED in Whangarei; around 1100 teddies per year are expected to be needed for Northland.
“The teddies help children to calm down,” Whangarei Hospital ED nurse manager Margaret Dreadon said. “They give children something to respond to. The majority of the time children come in acutely so parents haven’t brought their toys. It’s something they can take home with them, giving them a more pleasant memory of the ED than a memory of distress and fear.”
For a child, being able to externalise their experience can help make it easier, especially when a child has to have an intravenous (IV) line put in. Procedures like this can be demonstrated on teddy first, helping nurses let children understand what’s happening to them.
Tony saw firsthand the positive effect of a TLC teddy on a three-year-old boy in a hospital in Waikato at the end of 2017. “They had a little boy there who had hurt his hand badly. He was looking so down in the dumps, he was really withdrawn, he wasn’t communicating. We quietly asked him which colour teddy he would like and he said ‘Blue, please.’ He opened up, next thing the nurse asked him a question, shall we put a bandage on teddy? We saw the change in the boy, all of a sudden the boy had a smile ear to ear. His dad came up to me and said ‘I was sooo worried, thank you so much.’ So it’s to help the staff to help the kids. Nurses do a brilliant job, but sometimes an extra tool can help them.”
To donate to the TLC appeal, or get in touch with Tony and TLC team, head to https://www.tlcappeal.org.nz/(external link)
Photos attached – credit Northland DHB
IMG - (9175) Boys Haze and Zeb Silvery, Kaitaia Hospital
Girls Ata and Jordan, Kaitaia Hospital