Joytingle founder Esther Wang’s phone is filled with pictures of smiling children. Though the geotags vary, ranging from UK to Uganda, several constants remain. In each image, the children are clad in hospital scrubs, surrounded by a heart-rending array of medical devices, but their attention is temporarily removed from their grim circumstances by a blue, smiling rabbit.
The Rabbit Ray is no mere toy. Equipped with miniature, faux-medical equipment, it allows children to simulate vaccinations, insert intravenous plugs and drips, and even draw fake blood from its arm. It is Wang’s bid to help young patients understand the medical procedures they undergo and consequently, lessen their anxiety — to that end, Wang founded her health-education company Joytingle to bring the Rabbit Ray to more children around the world.
“What does an injection mean to a kid? What does chemotherapy mean? These big words mean nothing to them,” says Wang, who keeps the pictures as a reminder of the good her work does. “You need to use a different language in order to reach out to them.”
Today, Rabbit Ray is used by leading hospitals internationally, including Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in the US and Great Ormond Street Hospital in UK. The blue rabbit has travelled to more countries than Wang has ever been, but the knowledge that children in hospitals the world over are a little less frightened with Rabbit Ray in hand is all she needs.