More than 500 young students in the Tantramar region received a bit of comfort and support this month in the form of a cuddly teddy bear.
The Kindergarten to grade 4 students in the Sackville, Dorchester and Port Elgin areas were the recipients of the bears, thanks to a Tantramar Mental Health Action Group.
Last month, they began discussing the struggles that local teachers and young students were facing due to COVID-19.
With thoughts of how the kids must be trying to understand the conversations surrounding health and safety, as well as the various restrictions, the volunteers took action.
Wanting to offer comfort to these students and give them a life-long strategy to cope with stress, the Tantramar COVID-19 Task Force developed the Comfort Bear project.
This mental health tool for students from Kindergarten to Grade 4 teaches a well-accepted, life-long mental health skill through the vehicle of a teddy bear.
“Everyone benefits from comfort! What’s more comforting than a stuffed bear to hug!” says Denise Miller, member of the Mental health Action Group and Community Program Coordinator with the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick.
547 teddy bears were purchased thanks to local donors, and a laminated message was attached to the backs of the bears.
Pedvac volunteers attached the message to the backs of the bears, transforming them into more than just a cuddly toy.
It serves as a mental health tool that leads the children through an anxiety reducing breathing activity for times of stress.
The hope is that they will use this self-calming breathing exercise, as the look to their teddy bear for comfort.