The Pembroke Bear Making Programme began in Term 3 1987 with its entrance into Year 10 Community Care programme as part of the School’s focus on service to the community. Soon after the programme extended to include a group of students who met after school to make bears. They were soon joined by students from the Hearing Unit. As time progressed, students from years 9, 10, 11 and 12 attended once or twice each week after school to create bears.
The environment in the bear making space is a place for service to others with a focus on fun and social interaction across age groups, while creating something for another person. A recipient of a bear may be grieving, seriously ill or injured, traumatised, and may be a child or an adult.
Bears are made by students and it is largely the compassion and generosity of the students that drives the Bear Making Programme. The students have a desire to create bears to give comfort and joy to another person.
Individual bears are given to individual people who are suffering and 'Hugs of bears' are given to service providers for them to distribute to patients in need as required.
From time to time a bear is raffled to raise funds for charity. Pembroke bears are given away by the students who make them. Pembroke bears are not for sale.
Pembroke bears have been donated and have travelled to the following places since 1987. The list is by no means complete and includes:
Royal Adelaide Hospital, Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Flinders Medical Centre, SA Ambulance, NT Ambulance, Metropolitan Fire Service, Country Fire Service, SA Police, Country Hospitals in SA and interstate, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Rescue 1 helicopter. Bears have also been packaged and sent to many places overseas such as Scotland, Africa, USA, Haiti, Bali and Samoa. When being packaged and transported, we are careful that each bear is packaged to ensure there is enough space and access to air and food for the journey.
Wonderful letters, cards and stories of gratitude have been received during the 27 years of bear making. These have been documented in journals as they arrive from patients, parents of children, nurses and doctors. Letters have been received from many other people and services acknowledging the value of the bears.
The School generously supports the programme with materials, resources of space and time and delivery to where they are needed. Since its inception, the students and staff involved in the programme have made more than 2400 bears in three different sizes. We have also made a few camels and a koala or two.