After the success of its similar iterations in Australia, Ireland, London and Amsterdam, the "Teddy Bear Hospital" project has come to Turkey with the initiative of medical students at Hacettepe University in Ankara. To help reduce children's anxiety about hospitals and medical professionals, students at Çocuk Sevenler Derneği (The Association of Children Lovers) Primary School were invited to Hacettepe University's Faculty of Medicine and were presented teddy bears, which accompanied them while they received check-ups in examination rooms.
A total of 27 medical students gifted teddy bears to the kids as well as met with physicians and dentists who gave them health and wellness lessons including about how to wash their hands and human internal organs. Aziz Kılıç, a medicine student who coordinates the project, said the project kicked off in 2008 in collaboration with the Ankara branch of the Turkish Red Crescent. He added that the children empathize with the teddy bears as patients, and behave as if they were parents. "Children feel relaxed with toys and have fun while learning health-related information. We help them feel less stressed and to not fear hospitals and physicians," Kılıç said. Students also enjoyed the sessions and shared what they learned with each other.