“My daughter had convulsions,” and the fire department came to the family’s aid, one mother recounted. Fortunately, a stuffed animal, distributed by Kiwanis clubs in the département of Yonne, France, helped to comfort her after the experience.
The toy bear created a link between her daughter and the firefighter, the mother explained.
Since December 2012, L’opération des K-Pompinours has calmed and comforted more than 60 children experiencing a health concern, house fire or car accident. Although a similar project was once in place at the firehouses in Yonne, financial difficulties caused it to be discontinued.
But two Kiwanians — retired firefighter and past president of the Kiwanis Club of Sens, France, Gérard Bolle and a former Kiwanian from Auxerre, Myriam Poivet, — brought the need to provide comfort for traumatized young children to their clubs and proposed a partnership to resolve it.
“The goal was to find a producer at a minimum cost whose stuffed animals met European standards for toys intended for children between the ages of 0 and 3,” explains Bolle. “We called them K-Pompinours: ‘K’ for Kiwanis, ‘pompi’ for pompier (firefighter), and ‘ours’ (bear) for their nature.”
Produced by the French company Moulin Roty and purchased in bulk, the animals are incased in plastic to ensure their cleanliness, and a Kiwanis sticker is affixed to the packaging. Since its initiation in December 2012, L’opération des K-Pompinours has spread like wildfire among Kiwanis clubs, with two other clubs in the départment of Yonne also adopting the project.
By stocking the stuffed animals with other essentials, such as neck braces and medicine, the firefighters made a statement of the stuffed animals’ importance.
“They enable us to comfort and determine certain levels of pain for the youngest children, which is very much appreciated by the first responders who never miss an opportunity to demonstrate the usefulness and efficacy of these educational stuffed animals,” Bolle says proudly. The animals have facilitated dialogue with the children, eased the passage of children to the hospital and surprised the parents — so much so that they sometimes ask the firefighters what they owe them for the comforting gesture, or even if they need to return it. — Courtney Meyer
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