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Rotary kicks in for Trauma Bears program

When you’re a child, sometimes a teddy bear in your arms can make all the difference in the world.

For years the RCMP and Victims’ Services have been giving out teddy bears, called Trauma Bears, to children who are victims or witnesses of crime, involved in accidents, or who are in any kind of distress.

"Whenever a child experiences trauma we give them the bears to keep," said Kerrie Palmer, the Victim Services Co-ordinator for the Whistler and Pemberton RCMP.

"We keep them in the police cars, we have them in the office so we always have them available to give to kids."

A little while ago Victim Services noticed that their supply of bear was getting low. They went to the Rotary Club of Whistler, which immediately approved a request for $200 to restock the RCMP’s supply of Trauma Bears.

Community policing officer Michelle Nisbet says many of the bears are given out at domestic calls.

"When you have parents arguing or fighting, the kids are caught in the middle. One of my DARE kids (Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education) still sleeps with the bear she was given when she was three years old," she said.

The children that were affected in a pedophile case last year were also given the bears.

Other bears went to children in motor vehicle accidents, and to children that were lost in the village.

"Sometimes a kid will only be separated from their parents for a couple of hours, but that can be a traumatic experience," said Nisbet. "We try to minimize the negative experience, and we’ve seen how the bears have a positive effect on children.

"Even talking to police officers can be scary for a kid. When you give them a bear they’ll play with it, and it eases their stress so they can talk to you."

Wendell Moore, the president of the Rotary Club of Whistler, said his group was delighted to provide funding for new Trauma bears.

"We can get into some pretty good discussions about how the money is spent, but this was an easy one," he said. "It fits our bill for involving ourselves in the community, we had the money in our budget there to spend. I wish everything was that simple!"