What a Kiwanis doll can do
The pain A hospital experience can be overwhelming for an adult. Imagine what it is like for a sick or injured child. The child enters a strange environment of bright lights, strange noises, uncomfortable furniture and lots of strangers. Someone takes away clothes and starts poking and prodding. The child has no sense of control. Through all this, the child hurts.
Here’s a way to help these children: the gift of a Kiwanis doll, which can serve many purposes. Boredom buster. A child can draw on the doll with markers, distracting him from discomfort and boredom. Because the doll is soft and squeezable, it can be a comfort when the child is anxious. Outlet for expression. The child can express his fear or unhappiness by drawing a face on the doll. Also, the child can mark on the doll the injury or pain she feels. This allows adults to discuss concerns or pains more objectively with the child. Doctor’s demonstration. When medical personnel use the doll to show a child what will happen during the procedure, it helps the child understand. Sometimes the child can even help “doctor” the doll. This converts the activity into something the child has control over. Often, this allows a child as young as 2 or 3 years old to undergo the procedure much more calmly, whether it’s putting on an oxygen mask or having a cut sutured. Explaining a procedure using the doll as an example can actually save medical personnel time because children are so much more cooperative, according to Gerry Silk, clinical nurse educator at Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia. Each child keeps his doll when leaving the hospital, a positive reminder of the hospital visit.
Kiwanis dolls are about 15 inches tall, with a round head, two legs and two arms, but no features. This guide includes a copy of the doll pattern. Take this pattern to the people you’ve recruited to make the dolls for the club project. This may be club members and spouses. Often, clubs identify a sewing group in a church or retirement community, Aktion Club or school that agrees to make dolls. Discuss with them how many dolls they can comfortably produce on a monthly basis. Using the sewing groups’ input, identify the proper cotton material, stuffing material (usually polyester fiberfill) and thread to purchase. The material should be cotton, so children can mark on it with water-based markers, and light enough in color so markers will show. Beige or white are the usual choices, but a light brown may appeal to children with darker skin. Most children will be happy with pastel colors, such as pink, light blue, light green or even lavender! Look for vendors who will give discounts for large quantity purchases or companies that will donate materials left over from a manufacturing process. The pattern includes a Kiwanis label, but this is optional. You can purchase labels from the Kiwanis Store (item #10695) and a package of 100 costs US$6.00 (www. kiwanis.org/store). Sometimes, the sewing group asks that the Kiwanians deliver the material already cut in the pattern and ready for sewing. The sewing experts may have special instructions on the best way to cut the material. Of course, before large-scale sewing begins, make several samples and approach the local hospital about using the dolls.
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