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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

EAST Project Provides Stuffed Animal Therapy


Regan Neal and Kirsten Garner, Juniors at Cedarville High School, wanted to help people affected by the coronavirus pandemic. They took action by starting an EAST project called Li’l Cuddles (Stuffed Animal Therapy).

Regan and Kirsten have been involved in EAST for three years. “EAST stands for education accelerated by service and technology. This is a program offered in school where we use technology to solve community problems. We often do this through sophisticated projects where we partner with different people in the community and different companies.”

The girls started their project at the beginning of the school year. “Because of the coronavirus still affecting the entire world, we decided to do some research to see if there was anything we could do to help. Through research, we found that the depression and anxiety rates in the elderly in nursing homes and kids in hospitals were enormously high. We decided that one way we could help was making personalized stuffed animals for anyone who wanted one.”

Regan and Kirsten have big plans for the Li’l Cuddles Project. “One of the main things that we hope to accomplish with this project is helping the anxiety and depression ratings go down for the people who do not get to see their family during these hard times. We are also hoping to continue this project for the rest of high school (including when COVID is over) and pass it on to our underclassmen so that they can carry on our project and continue to help those who need it.”

The girls have made great strides during the school year. “We have been able to do many things so far. We first started out our project by starting a PayPal account that people can donate to and also making our own facebook group called LIL CUDDLES (Stuffed Animal Therapy). Anyone is able to join this group and donate to our PayPal. After a few generous donations and the Points of Light Grant , we got $700 to start with. With that money we bought stuffed animals and voice recorders for three of the elderly in our community. We also made each of them personalized books and calming scent packs. We have gotten to deliver one of these stuffed animal packs to the father of Mrs. Stacy Stephens (the special education teacher at Cedarville High School). Our other two are going to two of the other elderly in our community.”

Mrs. Stacy Stephens and Mrs. Nikki Barber

The industrious EAST students are asking the community for help. “After we deliver those three stuffed animal packs, we will not have any elderly or children to help. So something that the community can do is give us people to give packs to. Something else they could do is join our facebook group and/or donating to our PayPal. You can also sponsor a kid/elderly for $50. If you would rather donate you can do that on our PayPal.”

Regan and Kirsten hope to expand their reach. “From this project, we have helped some of the elderly in our community gain some happiness through a voice recording of their loved ones and a personalized book about their lives. So far we have only done this for elderly, but we soon hope to also give this same happiness and feeling of security to children in the hospital.”

To learn more about the project or make a donation, visit Li’l Cuddles (Stuffed Animal Therapy).

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