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If you’re a parent, you know that comforting a sick child, whether they’re suffering from a common cold or a more serious condition, is difficult and stressful. A recent study found that more than 55 percent of children’s primary caregivers were anxious when faced with a chronically ill child.
Aaron Horowitz saw this as a major problem, both in the healthcare world and in the home world.
“A lot of healthcare right now is top down: It’s focused on educating parents instead of educating children,” he said. “In addition, I think we are waiting too long and too late to start to intervene in things like prediabetes, type 1 diabetes education, and even food allergy education.”
In 2012 he decided to do something about it. Him and Hannah Chung created Jerry the Bear, a stuffed animal designed to teach children about their health in a fun, enjoyable way. Jerry is a smart, Wi-Fi enabled, customizable teddy bear prebuilt with interactive storylines. This allows children to physically play and react to Jerry’s needs and guide him through various daily routines.
There are three models of Jerry the Bear, one for general health and wellness, one for children with type 1 diabetes, and one for children with food allergies.
At first glance, Jerry may look like just another plaything. But parents and medical professionals see the bear as something much more.
“Children often take care of their stuffed animals but this was different,” said Kyle Thiboutot, father of a 5-year-old daughter with type 1 diabetes.
Since having Jerry, Thiboutot has seen his daughter teach family members and friends about her disease. It’s even helped erase some of the stigma associated with type 1 diabetes.
“Getting a bear like this in front of a child early on would be great,” Thiboutot said.
Dr. Maureen Strafford, an associate professor of anesthesiology, pediatrics, and public health and community medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine, agrees.
“Jerry the Bear uses technology in the most positive way for enhancing children’s health,” she said. “Play is essential for children and children learn so much during play but it is also a wonderful example of how we can use the best of technology to keep play and toys at the forefront of the child's experience.”
Give your child the gift of good health. Preorder your Jerry the Bear today!