APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – A free COVID-19 vaccination event in Appleton held on Thursday helped break down barriers and empower children with stuffed teddy bears.

On Thursday, the Multicultural Coalition, Inc., along with Partnership Community Health Center, held a free COVID-19 vaccination event which invited adults and children of diverse backgrounds to get vaccinated or receive their booster shots.

However, this was not your ordinary COVID-19 vaccination event. This event went beyond vaccines and healthcare and focused on addressing various areas of need.

Outreach and enrollment specialist with Partnership Community Health Center, Lydia Rhoads shared, “The focus is on more than just getting shots in arms. We want to make people understand that we are here for the community.”

To do just that, Rhoads said the event offered attendees a variety of different resources such as: providing translators for Spanish and Hmong-speaking communities, helping families/individuals enroll in Wisconsin Medicaid and FoodShare benefits, as well as supplying families in need with hygiene products.

Moreover, the event didn’t only target adults but made sure to meet the needs of the children who were preparing to receive their vaccines.

At the event, these children were reportedly given eco-friendly, fair trade teddy bears, supplied by Bears for Humanity, as a way to help them get through the vaccination process.

Rhoads shared that the idea to give out bears was thanks to a little boy who had brought his own stuffed bunny with him while he got his vaccine at a prior vaccination clinic.

Apparently, the boy told officials at the clinic that his stuffed bunny helped him feel brave while he got his shot.

“This little boy brought with him this very well-loved stuffed bunny and he explained that he brought it so that it would help him be brave and he would have a friend to hold onto when he was getting his vaccination,” recalled Rhoads.

This little boy reportedly helped officials remember the power that a stuffed animal can have in a child’s life – prompting them to help other children feel this same sense of empowerment while making the brave choice to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

A second vaccination clinic will reportedly be held at the Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in May.