WHILE The Salvation Army in Norway is helping people through the coronavirus crisis in a variety of ways, the movement’s corps (church) leader in Egersund has come up with a novel approach to unite the community despite the imposition of social distancing rules. The surprising technique? Encouraging households to place a teddy bear in their front window.
Captain Ester Danielsdottir van Gooswilligen explains that ‘families have a lot less that they can do’ during these days in which schools, play schemes, cafes, restaurants and non-essential shops are closed. Parents who are suddenly having to balance working from home with full-time childcare are often struggling to find ideas that will occupy the little ones. ‘But a teddy hunt in the neighbourhood is easy!’ Ester says enthusiastically.
Families are able to use their exercise time to go on a walk close to home, looking out for the bears as they go. ‘It helps with being active,’ she adds, ‘and can be a great motivation to go out and do something together … a safe distance from other people.’
The idea quickly spread when local newspaper Dalane Tidende shared Ester’s initiative, and similar teddy bear hunts have subsequently sprung up in neighbouring municipalities. Reports have been received of teddy bear hunts developing internationally too – as far apart as New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
There’s also a competitive nature to the activity – how many bears is one able to find in a single walk? ‘The record – as far as I can tell – is 73 teddy bears in one and a half hours,’ smiles Ester.
She encourages friends in The Salvation Army and elsewhere to consider starting similar fun initiatives through their networks, where appropriate.
From a report by the Norway, Iceland and The Færoes Territory
Photo by Ingunn Walderhaug, Dalane Tidende