From re-enacting their favourite characters to learning how to do a cartwheel (a skill I never mastered), kids figure out their world and their problems through play. Often using their their dolls, action figures, and stuffed animals, kids explore the positive aspects of their lives (relationships with friends, scientific principles, and the world outside), as well as the negatives.
Being a parent is tough enough, and adding in a child with chronic disease only make a difficult task more challenging. Children often have a hard time understanding constant doctors trips, needle pokes, and the unusual experiences that come with having a chronic disease.
One of Jerry’s creator’s, Aaron Horowitz, explained the need the creators saw for Jerry the Bear.”We got the idea for Jerry the Bear after observing kids with type 1 diabetes taking care of their stuffed animals as if they also had type 1 diabetes. They were pretending to prick their stuffed animals fingers and even gave them fake insulin injections. These children were using their stuffed animals to role play all of the things that they weren’t yet old enough to do to themselves. The idea for Jerry came from the desire to bring this play pattern to life and make it educational.”
While Jerry was originally designed to help children with Type 1 Diabetes, the creators have expanded his purpose to educate all children about living healthy lives, with specific expansion packs for diabetes and food allergies. Through their play and interaction with Jerry, children learn to understand their health, overcome challenges they may be facing, as well as building social and emotional intelligence; Taking care of Jerry allows children to learn why it is important to take care of themselves. As an educator and a mom of a child who has struggled with food allergies, I recognize the need for a friend like Jerry and am excited to see more play-based innovations hitting the marketplace.
Play with Jerry is easy even for preschool aged children. (Jerry is recommended for children 4-9.) Using the portal of Jerry’s stomach, children can scan different areas of Jerry’s body to find out what is going on and help Jerry feel better. Children can administer medicine and re-enact their own experiences, allowing them to better understand what is happening in their world.
Jerry’s expansion packs also come with interactive storybooks, allowing children to build and expand the knowledge of their physical and emotional health. The packs help customize how children interact with Jerry based on their specific health needs:
TYPE 1 DIABETES
- 3 animated storybooks
- Simulated blood glucose level
- 8 food cards
- Insulin pen
- 3 animated storybooks
- Simulated allergies
- 8 food cards
- Epinephrine pen
Horowitz has noticed that many families have begun to refer to Jerry as a member of the family, having found that asking children how “Jerry” is feeling and caring for Jerry gives them insight in to their own children’s experiences. As children often project their own feelings through their play, parents can use Jerry to help understand how their children are feeling, andassist children in building empathy, practicing social/emotional intelligence skills, as well as increasing their vocabulary.
Horowitz (and the Jerry team) have loved seeing the comfort and support Jerry has brought to families. “My favorite part about working on Jerry is hearing back from families who own a bear. We often hear stories from parents about children who have gained confidence, started to ask questions about their diabetes, and even refer to their diabetes as a super power after playing with Jerry. It is so incredibly fulfilling and helps keep us motivated through the long hours and stressful moments.”
Jerry the Bear launches today, September 22nd! Check out the Jerry the Bear website for more information and to add Jerry to your family. Have a Jerry already? Let us know what you think in the comments!
Want to know what we think of Jerry in action? Stay tuned in the near future, when the Geekling will play test Jerry for a hands on review! Pure Geekery was not compensated for this review, we just love sharing things we think our readers will love