The offerings in hospital gift shops — teddy bears, cards, flowers — might seem like insignificant trinkets that can’t adequately express support when a loved one is ill. But when Nicole Javorsky was hospitalized at the age of 14, suffering from an eating disorder, the teddy bears she received from friends and family buoyed her spirits.
Now 18, Javorsky has recovered from anorexia and is using her newfound energy to launch a charity, Cubs for Coping, which provides teddy bears to kids and teenagers in hospitals, shelters, and eating disorder programs. Her goal? To spread hope and encourage volunteerism among young people.
Javorsky told Taylor Zansberg of Talking GOOD, “I felt scared and alone in the hospital. My friends and family sent me stuffed animals, which made me realize that people do care. Not everyone is so lucky…Hope changes everything. Knowing that there are people out there who care about you is so important.”
The teddy bears from Cubs for Coping aren’t just any generic stuffed animal. Rather, Javorsky and others sew the bears by hand, leaving them unstuffed so volunteers can gather to fill and custom decorate bears at regular events in New York.
You’d think running one nonprofit would be enough for an 18-year-old to handle, but Javorsky hasn’t stopped with bears. She also founded the Mirror Mission club at her high school, at which participants discuss body image and healthy eating. The club made a video for Eating Disorder Awareness Week and raised money through a bake sale for Project HEAL, a national charity working on the issues Javorsky is passionate about.
Javorsky is now in college, planning to start her sophomore year at Barnard next fall. Continuing to be an ambitious volunteer, she’s also an intern at DoSomething.org, a non-profit engaging young people in charitable missions, and through Dancing Dreams, she spends time helping kids with physical and mental disabilities learn to dance. She told Zansberg, “We often feel that the world is too big and complicated to change. Through taking action, I stopped feeling intimidated and instead started to develop a better understanding of the complex world we live in.”