Today, Dundee Library & Information Services launched a unique and innovative teddy bear project, Talking ‘Bout Teddies, that explores human beings’ biological need for comfort and reassurance. Working in partnership with the organisation, connected baby, and led by research scientist Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, the project has attracted an incredible range of participants aged from 2 to almost 92.
Dr Suzanne Zeedyk and her team at ‘connected baby’ have ingeniously used the science of comfort to reveal stories from Dundee’s past and present by talking to people of all ages about their teddies. The resulting stories have resulted in 30 films which will now be made available to view in Dundee Libraries.
The stories range from a pensioner who was a child in the war who tells the story of how his teddies protected him from the fear of death and of being killed by ‘incoming shrapnel’ to a delightful 2 year old who tells us how ‘cuddly’ her bear is and brings the house down with her gorgeous smile.
Fiona Macpherson, Children's Library & Information Services Section Leader at Leisure & Culture Dundee explains
“We instinctively know that teddies offer children comfort, and Dr Zeedyk uses that knowledge in her own work to explain how adults carry within them an ‘internal teddy bear’, which helps them cope with life’s stresses. It is this link between childhood experiences and adult health that gives the project a unique take on an important message for all of us, whatever our age. Dundee Libraries were delighted to be selected as one of the pilot projects in the Engaging Libraries initiative last autumn. The funding from Carnegie UK Trust and Wellcome has allowed us to explore working in partnership and opens up libraries as spaces where debate can take place and learning for all ages can be supported in new and different ways."
Suzanne Zeedyk said
“It’s easy to think that teddies are just a cute mass of brown fur, big eyes and silent stuffing. But it turns out they are so much more. The way they feel - the way they smell - the way they squash. All of these are sensory sensations that calm a child’s biological stress systems. Of course, it isn’t just teddies that have this power to make a child feel reassured. It might be a blankey, a bunny or an old scarf of Mum’s. The form doesn’t matter. The feeling of safety does. The resulting stories help us to think more deeply about the power of teddies, the lasting impact of children's stress and the importance of relationships in human lives.”
At the launch films were previewed to a fully booked audience of academics, professionals and members of the public. The project is jointly funded by the Carnegie UK and Wellcome Trust as part of their Engaging Libraries programme. Engaging Libraries is a programme for public libraries across the UK and Ireland that want to pilot creative and imaginative public engagement projects on health and wellbeing. Other events in the project will include a Teddy Bears’ Picnic and public lectures on the neuroscience of relationships for those interested in the underlying science. All 30 films will be available for viewing in Dundee Libraries from mid-June 2018.