Trauma teddies relieve stresses

Yarrawonga retiree and local Trauma Teddies creator Coral Van Dyke presents Yarrawonga SES Unit Controller Jason Forber and CFA member Lawrence Phillips with trauma teddies to gift to children caught in rescue situations.

Being trapped in a car after an accident or being pulled from a burning home is a traumatic experience for anyone, none more so than children.

This is why local retiree Coral Van Dyk spends her time creating trauma teddies, brightly coloured handmade teddy bears that bring youngsters comfort at a time when they need it most.

Coral originally came across the initiative after she learnt about Backpacks for Kids Vic, which provides children who may be homeless, entering Out-of-home care, young people sleeping rough or displaced by disaster in emergency accommodation with a backpack filled with the essentials to ease feelings of loss and to help with their relocation.

Taking part in that, Coral then found the trauma teddies initiative which was brought to Australia by the Red Cross as a friendly security or happy face for children.

Upon moving to Yarrawonga six years ago and realising the trauma teddy was more widely needed locally than the backpack for Kids, Coral took it upon herself to approach differing emergency organisations to store some teddies in their vehicles to hand to children in distressing situations.

“It’s my mission to put a smile on the face of children,” Ms Van Dyk said.

“We make CFA, SES, police, paramedics, doctors and nurses teddies a couple of inches high for a child to hold in their hand in tough situations, but I also make normal size teddies for care packs as well as key rings for people to gift to the service that assisted them in their time of need.”

As well as creating trauma teddies for emergency services, Coral also creates small pieces to let people know they are thought about and cared for in addition to sensory objects.

“Something new comes up each week,” Ms Van Dyk said.

“Currently I am also making small, care hearts for people to give someone who may be in hospital or that is just struggling to know that somebody is thinking about them and somebody cares.

“I have recently started making small cancer teddies that have the breast cancer logo on them for those who are going through treatment to have and hold to feel a little better and again to know someone is thinking of them.

“I sew and embroid for six hours a day so it is almost like work again but I love it.

Coral Van Dyke with several of the items she creates including the trauma teddies, smaller teddies for care packs, keyrings and embroided thousand hearts to show people that someone is thinking of them and cares.

“I do sell some of the larger teddies and keyrings to then use that money to purchase the materials to make more trauma teddies, keyrings, hearts etc to give back to those in need.

“I also make a marble maze for children on the spectrum. Something to keep them occupied that works with their sensory issues.

“To know that these small items are assisting people, especially hearing of young children receiving a trauma teddy and instantly calming down a little in a heightened situation is a great gift for me and I will continue to create them for that exact reason.”

Coral is also assisted by local individuals who donate money to her to purchase materials to make her gorgeous creations as well as materials and pillows for stuffing that she can use for the differing products.

“Vikki Bye at Thyme for Coffee is always a massive help to me with donating money for hearts or having some of the products I sell in her store and then giving me the money to further purchase material but I am also assisted by a number of lovely individuals in the community,” Coral said.

“Also thanks to my friend Lee Grainger in WA who designs all the bears and to my charity friend and partner Tanya McLeod who covers South East donations.

“CWA also donated some money to me which was very lovely along with Bunnings who ran a sausage sizzle.”

Coral has been donating the trauma teddies, key rings and embroidered hearts to the Yarrawonga SES and CFA for a while now, with another delivery passed over recently for the services to keep in their trucks for when they attend rescue situations.

SES Unit Controller Jason Forber said Coral and her trauma teddies were an immense benefit to the local area with the teddies assisting all aspects of a rescue in making a family calmer.

“What Coral does is amazing, and we can’t thank her enough,” Mr Forber said.

“We have handed out trauma teddies to children as something they can hold on to as we rescue them or family members from certain situations and it has helped immensely.

“At first they look at you like why are you handing me this at this sort of time but as soon as it is in their hands you see them relax a bit which is amazing to see.

“It takes their mind off things slightly. It means the world to kids.

“We have also further distributed them to other local SES crews and everyone is so appreciative of them as it helps everyone. Not just the children, it also assists us as rescuers if they are calmer and also helps to calm the parents knowing their child isn’t in distress.”

CFA member Lawrence Phillips agreed with the sentiment of calming children and said all emergency services should have some in their vehicles.

“We have given them to children when we have gone to fires and to see them calm even just that little bit is amazing,” Lawrence said.

“For something so small that is easy for us to carry around in our trucks, to then have such an impact is just incredible and we couldn’t thank Coral enough.

“All CFA or fire brigade trucks, SES, Police and paramedics should carry them, they are a great idea and assist the situation massively.”

To find out more about Coral’s work or to assist in any way, visit the Craft Lovers Charity Page on Facebook