Local group sends teddy bears to children in Ukraine, Uvalde – Henry County Times
Joyce Farrar-Rosemon said she hopes her teddy bears will help ease the plight of children in traumatic circumstances.
“I wanted to do these teddy bears because I thought it would be a good psychological tool for kids,” she said. “Bears use music therapy, visualization and affirmation to let them know they have purpose, they have hope, so they don’t go through life with this big blockage in their heart that keeps them from feeling hopeful, that they are valued and have a purpose in life.
Farrar-Rosemon, from McDonough, is the executive director of Squeeze The Hope Teddy Bears and the organizer of the Ladies at the Retreat at Westridge sewing group. She and her volunteers are donating handmade therapy bears to Ukrainian children, as well as those affected by the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
Farrar-Rosemon retired as a therapist in 2018. She founded Squeeze the Hope Teddy Bears in April, in response to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
“They’re made of cotton,” she said. “They have big eyes. They look like a typical teddy bear.
Farrar-Rosemon said she came up with the idea for the bears after watching news reports about the conflict in Ukraine and feeling a sense of “desperation” on behalf of children there.
“What do you, as a parent, say to these children in terms of values, that humanity allowed this to happen and that a group of adults decided that this would happen?” she says. “As a retired therapist and educator, I know what these children will face.”
Farrar-Rosemon said the cubs, when pressed, present “comforting music, visualization techniques and messages to ease and support individuals on their journey to wholeness and success.”
She says she drew inspiration from her experiences with traumatized children to find out what they need. For Ukrainian children, bears are yellow and blue as a reminder of their homeland, Farrar-Rosemon said.
Bears, she said, offer a more effective way to reach out and comfort them in the midst of their situation. These children, she said, need more than just “talking therapy” to cope with traumatic circumstances.
“You have a group of people who are being killed,” she said. “Call it that – it’s genocide, and children are caught up in it. How do you explain that to a child?
Currently, options include Deborah the Inspirational Bear and David the Brave Bear, with music and a message of hope in English, Spanish, or Ukrainian. Farrar-Rosemon said the collection will add Ruth the Success Bear in the near future.
His group recently sent 12 bear cubs to children in Uvalde and will be sending 22 bear cubs to Ukrainian children in the coming days. Farrar-Rosemon said she was exploring the possibility of sending these last bears through a missionary to Moldova.
Uvalde children will receive bears with cartoon characters and other attractive designs, Farrar-Rosemon said.
“The Uvalde Bears are ready to go,” Farrar-Rosemon said. “We have a contact at a bereavement center in Texas.”
McDonough’s Helen Garland lives in Westridge retirement and was among those who helped create the bears. She said she loved children and wanted to send them a positive spiritual message.
“I always enjoy working with children,” Garland said. “These bears, they speak in their language and tell them that Jesus loves them. I wanted to put some joy in their lives. It’s important to let them know that people care about them, in addition to those they’re with.
“It was a joy to be a part of it,” Garland continued. “When we lose someone, we miss their presence, their love, their wisdom and their encouragement. That’s what we wanted them to have – to know that we love them and that they would feel their love, his encouragement and his presence.
Farrar-Rosemon added that his group was waiting for an opportunity to send bears to Ukraine. She is also open to sending them to other regions in the future as needed.
“The way this world is going, I will continue to respond to crises when bears can help children and parents,” she said. “My goal for the bears is for them to be like a therapeutic Barbie doll – something that has psychological, emotional and healing value that they can relate to.”
For more information on Squeeze the Hope Teddy Bears, email [email protected].