Happy 25th Birthday to Cook Children's Prayer Bears!
For 25 years, the Spiritual Care team at Cook Children's has provided Prayer Bears to admitted patients as a source of comfort and encouragement. The gift of a Prayer Bear inspires hope, nurtures a spirit of love, and invites community support for our patients and families.
The PrayerBears program at Cook Children’s is celebrating 25 years of giving spiritual and emotional support one cuddle at a time to patients admitted to the Medical Center. It’s a milestone birthday for a beloved aspect of our Spiritual Care department.
The Prayer Bear Program functions as an important link between our community, patient families, and our Spiritual Care department — a link not based upon religion, denomination, spirituality, or personal belief, but a link that names the sacredness of every single child who enters our care. Spiritual Care nurtures the spirit of Cook Children’s…and nothing better nurtures the spirit of a child, especially a child who is sick or injured, than receiving a PrayerBear.
Interfaith ministry specialist Robin “Mama Bear” Brazell and volunteers gave away 16,955 Prayer Bears in 2022. They are a source of encouragement to patients and families of every faith, including those with no ascribed faith. The gift of a Prayer Bear bridges cultural and religious differences, making another point of connection with the children we serve.
A Prayer Bear is often the first contact the Spiritual Care department makes with families. It opens the door for support from our chaplains if desired.
Funding for the Prayer Bear program comes from donors including faith communities, community groups and former patients who cherish their own PrayerBears so much that they want to make sure the 25-year Prayer Bear tradition continues for others.
Book: PrayerBear's Big Adventure
The book PrayerBear’s Big Adventure accompanies each PrayerBear and is an inclusive story that highlights the spiritual value of hope over any particular dogma. This allows for patient families of every faith tradition and spiritual background to find value in the story while also highlighting other patient engagement opportunities like the Child Life Zone, Bomar Library, and the Erma Lowe Chapel.
For our Spanish-speaking patient families, we provide supplemental information about support services which, in turn, helps to break through potential barriers by affirming the worth of our Spanish-speaking population.
Placed inside each book is a prayer card that invites patient families to add their child’s name to a HIPAA-compliant prayer list that is distributed to hundreds of people and organizations each week.
The design of the book was specifically chosen with our Behavioral Health patients in mind, using materials that cannot be taken apart or used in acts of self-harm.
The combination of a patient family receiving a Prayer Bear and PrayerBear’s Big Adventure allows families to know the origin of the gift of their Prayer Bear, eliciting surprise, joy, and a sense of community.
The Prayer Ministry provides opportunities for patient families to share their burden which nourishes spirits and instills hope.