By Glenda McCarthy
A trip to the emergency room can be a frightening experience for a young child. Often times these visits can happen at a moment’s notice, meaning that comforting items the child would normally cling to become an afterthought as parents make their way out the door. With this in mind, a group of Community Studies students at Carbonear campus decided to offer children something to hold onto.
As part of their Community Studies diploma program at Carbonear campus, students must take an introductory course in the field of community development where they explore the diversity of roles and occupations as well as learn about the ethical considerations and skills needed to successfully work in the field.
“It introduces students to the major concepts, principles and challenges of the community development field,” says instructor Sherry Quirke. “The course allows students to take a critical look at conventional approaches to development, as well as theoretical influences on current community development practice.”
Community development seeks to empower individuals and groups of people by providing groups with the skills needed to affect change in their own communities, while simultaneously helping the community strengthen and develop to its full potential.
Students were broken down into groups and assigned to work with an organization in the community. During this exercise, one group in particular partnered with the local chapter of the Kiwanis Group and focused on working with the Trauma Doll Project.
“The Trauma Doll Project centres around the notion that a visit to the emergency room can be traumatic – especially for a child who may not understand everything that’s happening,” says Sherry. “Members of the Kiwanis Club of Carbonear and a handful of volunteers started a project to help make that visit a little more comfortable. Volunteers sew trauma dolls for children who might feel a little scared during a trip to the hospital.”
The dolls serve several purposes and provide a soothing distraction and instant comfort to children in the overwhelming environment of a hospital.
Each doll was hand assembled and bares the CNA and Kiwanis logos on the legs of each doll.
“The children are encouraged to decorate the dolls with markers. Sometimes, the dolls help the children demonstrate what hurts. Often, the staff will use the dolls to illustrate medical procedures. Many frightened children, fearing surgery or any kind of medical procedure, are calmed when given a soft, cuddly doll.”
The initial goal was to make 60 dolls for the Kiwanis chapter. However, the students exceeded those expectations, creating 100 of these comforting dolls, which were then presented to the Kiwanis Club of Carbonear who distributed the dolls to local hospitals and clinics in the area.
“It was a win–win for all parties involved,” Sherry says.