When five-year-old Elijah Woodhouse got the chance to bring home his pre-school’s beloved teddy, Shorty Bear, he was determined to show the toy a good time.
Not satisfied just taking Shorty Bear to the beach or letting him play with his other toys, Elijah and mum Melanie decided to organise for the beloved bear to sky dive.
And so it was one small step for Shorty Bear, one big leap for teddy-bear kind, on Monday when the bear plunged out of a Skydive the Beach plane, jumping from 14,000 feet before safely returning to Elijah’s arms.
Melanie said Shorty, the long-term mascot of Corrimal’s Short Street Occasional Care Centre, was the brainchild of centre supervisor Kylie Pettit who wanted a feel-good way to make the children feel included.
‘‘She had this wonderful idea for Shorty Bear to go home with the children for short stays to teach them the importance of inclusion and caring for others; Elijah has autism so that was really important to us,’’ she said.
‘‘The idea is to take Shorty Bear on adventures or just hang out with him and then document his time in his journal, which gets handed back to the pre-school for all the children to enjoy.
‘‘We’re thrill seekers in our house so we thought it would be really exciting for Shorty Bear to jump out of a plane; it’s something he hasn’t done before and we knew he’d love to feel the wind on his fur.’’
The jump was also a first for Skydive the Beach with staff member Chris Tabor strapping Shorty Bear to his chest for the 60 second free-fall before the pair fell and enjoyed stunning views of the coast.
Shorty Bear is quite the well-travelled ted, having visited mosques, been on postal runs and taken trips overseas.
He will return to pre-school this week, fresh from his skydiving adventure.
He was dressed for his big jump by local business FAT Designs.
Short Street Occasional Care Centre is a non-profit community-based centre managed through Illawarra Area Child Care Limited.