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Coronavirus: Belgian children go on a (teddy) bear hunt

Credit: The Brussels Times

Children across the world have a new hobby to keep them occupied during social distancing walks, as they lead the hunt for teddy bears in people’s windows.

Part of a movement snowballing into a worldwide phenomenon, this bear hunt has been reported in London, the U.S. and has settled in Belgium.

The concept is simple. To keep children entertained while they’re out of school due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, people are placing teddy bears in street-facing windows so the kids can hunt them out on walks.

In Ghent, this movement has caught on with explosive results, after a VRT report accompanied a child who counted 69 bears.

Keen to spread knowledge of the measures, parents from the area have since seized upon the bear-hunting initiative to help non-Dutch speakers learn more.

Through specially designed posters – available to print in 11 languages – the group hopes to spread the word of the activity, and of safety measures.

“Bears are hiding behind the windows of houses throughout this neighbourhood. Are you out walking with children? Go on a teddy bear hunt! Count the teddy bears and try to catch new ones every time you go out because new bears pop up every day,” the poster reads.

“We noticed how the bear hunt brought people together. Without being in close proximity, neighbours are united,” Michaël Mariën, one of the people behind the initiative told VRT. “Either because they have gone a-bear-hunting or have placed cuddly toys in their window and are looking out for children’s reactions. We wish also to involve people who don’t speak our language well or well enough yet.”

The poster also includes the basic measures required under current rules.

“Stay home and wash your hands often. Keep in touch with the elderly by phone or digitally. Stay 1.5 metres apart from others when you go out (on a bear hunt for example).”

The notice ends with a call for anyone who sees the sign to put a bear in their window.

The resources – which can be coloured in by kids and adults alike – are available online here, if you take part in a hunt, or put a bear in your window, let us know on Twitter @BrusselsTimes.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times