Healthy Fun at NMHM's Teddy Bear Clinic
Not even dark clouds and rain could wash away the smiles at this year's Teddy Bear Clinic, Sept. 13, at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The event, which has been a popular program at the NMHM since 2009, gives children the opportunity to don a lab coat and stethoscope and pretend to be a doctor using their favorite stuffed companion as a patient. Along the way, they learn about good health practices and physical fitness from volunteers.
Among those offering a hand this year was a group of Howard University students from the Pediatric Interest Association and the school's Department of Physical Therapy. They assisted children with everything from giving their teddy bears flu shots to brushing their teeth and offering nutritional and fitness tips.
"This is a nice, informal way of explaining to children and parents all the things you can do to enhance good health," said Bernardine Evans, professor of physical therapy at Howard University and a volunteer docent with the NMHM. "We hope to give parents an idea of a fitness schedule and run with it from there."
Latoya Beatty, a second year student at Howard University's College of Medicine, was overjoyed by the interaction she had with the young attendees. She plans on pursuing a career in pediatrics once she has graduated.
"I absolutely love the interaction with children. They're so much fun to be around," said Beatty. "This experience has given me some ideas on how to conduct an exam and how to talk to children. That's an entirely different scenario than dealing with adults."
Jasmine Hughes, another second year medical student, was having a blast talking to kids and helping them look for their teddy bear's heartbeat. Watching them have fun was her biggest takeaway from the day.
"It's fun to see them having fun. If anything, we're asking them questions instead of the other way around," said Hughes. "They're really excited about the topic and have a good understanding on how important it is to be healthy. That's wonderful to see at such a young age."
Lisa Hubbard is no stranger to the NMHM, as she has visited before as part of her Girl Scout troop from Rockville, Maryland. As a parent, she's pleased to see the museum offering programs like this to the community.
"It's important for children to learn how to eat and exercise properly. That goes a long way in their development," said Hubbard. "We always enjoy outings like this. Plus, it's another way for some of our girls to earn badges and move up in rank. That's an added bonus."
Andrea Schierkolk, the NMHM's public programs manager, said the Teddy Bear Clinic not only provides a unique opportunity to introduce good health and fitness practices to a young audience, but it also supports the Army medicine's Performance Triad initiative, which emphasizes a regimen of healthy eating, sleeping and movement.
The NMHM's public programs connect the mission of the Department of Defense museum with the public. The NMHM was founded as the Army Medical Museum in 1862 and moved to its new location in Silver Spring, Maryland in 2012. Information on upcoming events, including a family program about skulls on Nov. 1, will be posted on www.medicalmuseum.mil. For additional information or any questions, please call (301) 319-3300.