You might expect to find weapons and handcuffs in police cruisers to deal with crime calls, but now officers will also carry a cuddly new tool to help comfort the children they encounter in crisis situations.
Teddy Bears Anonymous has been providing teddy bears for children in hospitals across the province for a decade. On Friday, the charity announced it was partnering with the Regina Police Service – the first time it has done so with a law enforcement agency – to provide teddy bears for police vehicles.
Officers will now have bears to give to children encountering scary situations or are dealing with traumatic experiences.
Jan Lawrence with Teddy Bears Anonymous said they have been working on the initiative for a couple of years.
“We just felt we want to take the program one step further by offering teddy bears for children in a traumatic situation.”
Luke Lawrence founded the charity a decade ago in memory of his daughter Erin, who died in 2007 from cancer.
“When Erin was in hospital, there was only two things that she received – she received flowers and she received quite a few teddy bears. The flowers didn’t last long but the teddy bears hung around for a while,” Luke said.
Since beginning a decade ago, Teddy Bears Anonymous has given out 133,000 bears.
Jan said Erin would be overwhelmed with how big the program has grown.
“We do get a lot of our ideas and support from Erin. She’s with us every day and every time an idea comes to us we say ‘Oh, guess what Erin’s just told us.'”
Luke said the partnership was a perfect fit for them and it just happened to come together around Christmas. He said the hope is officers never face a situation where the teddy bear will be needed, but now they have them there if it arises.
“Having the teddy bears in the trunks of the cars and providing them to children that are in traumatic circumstances is part of building a better relationship with our community.”
Jan said they would like to partner with Saskatoon police and RCMP in the future.