It's not easy when you're a kid with diabetes or food allergies. Here's something that helps — a lot.

Children with special needs such as diabetes and food allergies can often feel left out or isolated.

There's a really ingenious idea that can help with that called "Jerry the Bear."

This bear is different from most teddy bears because a child can interact with him in ways that make it seem like they're not alone.

First developed at Northwestern University in 2013, Jerry the Bear has three versions — one for diabetic kids, one for those with food allergies, and one for helping kids understand the value of hygiene, nutrition, and exercise.


The first iteration, for kids with Type 1 diabetes, was a hit; kids all over the world have been able to use it to help control their blood sugars, deal with low blood sugars, and count carbs ... but most importantly, it helps them explain their condition to others. Here's what some parents have had to say:

"I think it's helped … conceptualize what is a carb."

"I don't want her to feel different. You know?"

"When people come over, and ... ask Conner questions, he goes to get Jerry."

"He's more than just a learning tool for her; he's a learning tool to engage the village, the community, the kids around us."





Here's one little girl's version of what Jerry is to her:

Hugs! Image via "Our Families" from Jerry the Bear/YouTube.

Kids with special needs can use this little extra boost of confidence — of feeling like they're not alone and having a "friend" who gets it.

Image via "It Takes Two" from Jerry the Bear/YouTube.

But even more important, it's a really effective tool to get them to learn how to take care of themselves properly.

The Type 1 diabetic Jerry, for example, can help kids count carbohydrates, monitor glucose levels, and learn how to talk about their symptoms when they don't feel right. It stimulates kids to talk more about what they're dealing with and what they're feeling about their health issues.

GIF via Jerry The Bear/YouTube.

The food allergy Jerry comes complete with an Epipen, which many kids with severe allergies need to learn how to use. And, at times, they're embarrassed to keep one with them or let anybody see it. Normalizing that experience can help them to not forget the pen somewhere (which could mean disastrous consequences).

What's next for the Jerry the Bear line of empathy bears? Who knows, but they're probably going to be fantastic!

Listen to these families talk about how this invention made a big impact in the lives of their kids:

Heroes
True
Cheerios
via bfmamatalk / facebook

Where did we go wrong as a society to make women feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public?

No one should feel they have the right to tell a woman when, where, and how she can breastfeed. The stigma should be placed on those who have the nerve to tell a woman feeding her child to "Cover up" or to ask "Where's your modesty?"

Breasts were made to feed babies. Yes, they also have a sexual function but anyone who has the maturity of a sixth grader knows the difference between a sexual act and feeding a child.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / JLo

The Me Too movement has shed light on just how many actresses have been placed in positions that make them feel uncomfortable. Abuse of power has been all too commonplace. Some actresses have been coerced into doing something that made them uncomfortable because they felt they couldn't say no to the director. And it's not always as flagrant as Louis C.K. masturbating in front of an up-and-coming comedian, or Harvey Weinstein forcing himself on actresses in hotel rooms.

But it's important to remember that you can always firmly put your foot down and say no. While speaking at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Actress Roundtable, Jennifer Lopez opened up about her experiences with a director who behaved inappropriately. Laura Dern, Awkwafina, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, and Renee Zellweger were also at the roundtable.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Life for a shelter dog, even if it's a comfortable shelter administered by the ASPCA with as many amenities as can be afforded, is still not the same as having the comfort and safety of a forever home. Professional violinist Martin Agee knows that and that's why he volunteers himself and his instrument to help.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

Believe
True
Macy's