Child refugees in Canada are being given a soft and cuddly friend to help them settle into their new home.
A teddy bear has been distributed that will help them learn English, one phrase at a time.
Called “Ahlan” – Arabic for “welcome” – the toy is part of a pilot project unveiled by immigration services, COSTI.
When children squeeze the bear, it speaks a range of different phrases such from “What is your name?” to “Let’s build a snowman!” and “I love hockey.” It starts by saying the phrase in Arabic, then repeating it in English.
“What we see with the Syrian Children here is that they immediately start to pick up words in English and start to practice them and interact with each other and play using their new words,” said Josie Di Zio, Senior Director of Planning and Program Development at COSTI.
“The connection between the two cultures is immediate.”
Around 150 bears have been handed out by volunteers to refugees in Toronto as part of the project.
Canada has taken in over 32,000 refugees from Syria, with reportedly more than 60 per cent of these being children.
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