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The NEW Jerry the Bear.

Since they’re local to me here in Rhode Island, I drove up to the Jerry the Bear office to meet with my friends Aaron Horowitz and Hannah Chung, creators of Jerry the Bear.

“It’s awesome to see you guys! Where have you been the last few years?”

After hugs and hellos, I realized my question was unfair. Because they haven’t been hiding but instead, the team behind Jerry the Bear has been working tirelessly to change their business in efforts to meet their mission of getting Jerry into the hands of every child diagnosed with type 1 diabetes globally.

That’s quite a mission. But if anyone can accomplish this goal, the driven, passionate, creative, and all-heart team behind Jerry can.

Just your friendly neighborhood Jerry the Bear!

A post shared by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

“As a business, we know that Jerry the Bear works, but in order to succeed and survive, we need to make the business work. We’ve been working to move our company from a direct to consumer model to a business-to-business model. This means we’re not selling our bears directly to people but instead have partnered with two different distributors in order to get Jerry into kids’ hands,” said Jerry the Bear co-founder and CEO, Aaron Horowitz.

Namely, they’ve partnered with Beyond Type 1 to handle domestic and international orders (except Canada) and Diabetes Express for our neighbors to the north.

“We want to improve life with diabetes for kids by giving them something positive to associate with diabetes,” said Hannah Chung, co-founder and CCO.

The Sproutel team did a lot of research in developing new Jerry. In addition to marathon sessions with post it notes, building paper prototypes, and “body storming,” the team went into the field to access kids in their natural play habitats. Hannah told me that she went to playgrounds during the development phase in order to work with kids and see if they could hold a bear and a phone at the same time, testing out how the app might be physically managed by their target age range of 4 – 9 years old.

“I’d go into the playground with a bear peeking out of the back of my backpack and a handful of permission slips, talking with kids and their parents. We play games like Simon Says in order to see if kids could find the bear’s belly button or elbow, and whether or not they preferred phones or tablets.”

The mental image of Hannah traipsing through Rhode Island playgrounds with a mission to improve the diabetes experience and a stuffed animal keeping watch over her shoulder sums up the Jerry philosophy for me. This team – Hannah, Aaron, Joel Schwartz, and Brian Oley – are changing the way newly diagnosed kids with diabetes are introduced to diabetes.

I think about my own diagnosis back in 1986 – what a difference it would have made to be handed a friendly bear instead of an orange to practice injections on.

In meeting the new Jerry the Bear, the first thing I noticed was that the touch screen tummy of his predecessor was gone. Coming in at a price point of $55 versus the $299 cost of Original Jerry, New Jerry (henceforth known simply as Jerry) is a soft, plush animal without any plastic or metal hardware attached to him. He’s snuggle-ready. Looking similar to my daughter’s army of Build A Bear stuffed animals and sporting giant, Beanie Boo-esque eyes, Jerry looks like huggable buddy, the perfect comfort companion for kids with diabetes.

What’s replaced the touch screen belly, however, is an amazing upgrade. Jerry now comes with a digital world that lives on an iOS or Android device, and the app is completely free. And on Jerry’s plush body are scannable patches that serve as unique QR codes, giving rise to augmented reality play.

“We were excited to see Pokemon Go! come out and see such success,” said Aaron. “Jerry has that same kind of virtual world superimposed onto the real world. Now it is easier for Jerry’s actions to be procedurally detailed.”

Checking Jerry's BG.

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This means that you’re not just squeezing the pad of Jerry’s finger, but instead you’re walking through all the details of checking blood sugar, from putting the test strip into the meter, pricking his finger, squeezing out a drop of blood, and applying the blood to the strip. The tasks feel real, and they feel thorough.

DO feed the bear!

A post shared by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

The app doesn’t require an actual Jerry the Bear stuffed animal to engage in Jerry’s world, though, and that’s one of my favorite upgrades to this experience. While Jerry himself requires a purchase, the app is free for download. And with that download comes a full world of diabetes experiential learning through the Jerry lens.

“My favorite things about [new] Jerry are that you can explore Jerry’s world in full just on the app, and also that scanning his sites gives you detailed steps around how to use Jerry’s diabetes kit,” shared Hannah. Aaron agreed, adding, “Also that you can experience Jerry instantly through the app. And that the action of scanning changes the world around you, through augmented reality play.”

“What’s the weirdest thing you saw during the test group sessions?” I asked.

Aaron laughed. “You wouldn’t believe how often kids feed Jerry’s butt.”

So there’s that.

While Jerry is aimed at helping kids in the  4 – 9 year old range who are newly diagnosed with diabetes, his potential reaches FAR past that specific demographic.  Jerry, in our home, has been used to help my daughter understand her mother’s diabetes.  He’s been a teaching tool to show kids in her class and our neighborhood what diabetes is all about.  Imagine Jerry as part of a diabetes camp experience, where teenagers can lean on levity and being silly with a stuffed animal to work through some of their frustrations.  Or helping open up discussions for all age ranges about diabetes distress or burnout.  Jerry could be a powerful conduit for conversation for all people touched by diabetes.

This little bear has potential, and plenty of it.

One more thing:  I’d love to share Jerry with two Six Until Me readers, and all you need to do is leave a comment.  Through a random number generator, I’ll select two commenters to ship a snuggly Jerry to.  This giveaway will be open until Sunday night at midnight eastern time, and winners will be notified by email.

Want to enter?  Leave a comment, and be sure to include your email!

You can check out Jerry the Bear’s new app by downloading it from iTunes or Google Play. You can also follow Jerry on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. To order your own Jerry, visit Beyond Type 1 (or Diabetes Express, if you’re in Canada). Thanks to the Sproutel team for letting me come over and play!

39 Comments Post a comment
  1. Denise Pasko #

    Aaron & Hannah are AWESOME! Met them at a conference awhile back! Would love a bear that I would in turn give away through my non-profit Berks T1D Connection 🙂

    03/16/17; 9:40 am
  2. Elizabeth Schatia #

    T1d Mama Bear here, This would have been so great for my daughter when she was diagnosed. I am currently in nursing school to be able to work with pediatrics and being of a support to T1ds and families. This is Terrific!

    03/16/17; 9:41 am
  3. Emily Rush #

    The new Jerry looks very cool. I would like to have one of my own!

    03/16/17; 9:45 am
  4. Kassie Tyvela #

    This would be so awesome for daycare! Jerry is on my list to have. Thanks for the opportunity Kerri.

    03/16/17; 9:55 am
  5. SO cool!!
    My little 7 yr. old niece was just diagnosed less than a week ago. Sad but happy to be here to help them muddle through these first days.

    03/16/17; 10:02 am
  6. Sam #

    Would love a Jerry! Thanks for the opportunity!

    03/16/17; 10:14 am
  7. Karin Bowman #

    I always wanted a Jerry…I got an orange 🙂

    03/16/17; 10:15 am
  8. Aliza chana #

    The new Jerry experience looks amazing! I’d love to have a Jerry the Bear to be able to be my companion during burnout, help teach my students about diabetes in a child friendly way, and to teach my nephew (and other new family members) about daily living, and what to do in an emergency.

    03/16/17; 10:26 am
  9. Randall Barker #

    I love the new look for Jerry. I would love to win one to donate to the CDE that my daughter and I use.

    03/16/17; 10:34 am
  10. I would love to bring Jerry to JDRF Teen Central and Kids Camp at our T1D Nation Summit on May 13th. If he wants to pack a suitcase and head to Michigan, we have a huge audience of kidlets that would welcome a chance to hang out and feed….his mouth. 🙂

    03/16/17; 11:15 am
  11. Christine Casey #

    I would love a Jerry bear so the kids could understand what I’m doing. He’s adorable.

    03/16/17; 11:43 am
  12. Megan #

    Would love a Jerry to share with my Type 3 4 year old!

    03/16/17; 12:50 pm
  13. I see a lot of T1D kids in my office. Would love for them to be able to play while their parents chat!

    03/16/17; 1:48 pm
  14. Rachel #

    Jerry would be a great way to acknowledge my daughter’s diaversary (3 years), which is coming up. We’ve never observed this milestone before, but my daughter decided that this year, she wants to embrace it. Very exciting to see this new bear!

    03/16/17; 2:47 pm
  15. jennifer couch #

    We have Rufus and would love to add Jerry to the family!x

    03/16/17; 2:52 pm
  16. Brittney powell #

    I would love love love this for my kids!! Such an incredible tool!

    03/16/17; 2:53 pm
  17. Jennifer #

    I would love a Jerry. Thanks for the opportunity!

    03/16/17; 3:42 pm
  18. Taylor Inman #

    I would love a Jerry to teach my kids about T1D. My 2 year old LOVES to play with my used pods when I change my site!

    03/16/17; 4:58 pm
  19. Sheila #

    Looks so cool. Would love one for my son.

    03/16/17; 7:06 pm
  20. Cynthia #

    I would love a Jerry, especially with 4 T1’s in the home!

    03/16/17; 7:52 pm
  21. Anne #

    Jerry is awesome–thanks for all of great hard work bringing him to life!

    03/16/17; 8:23 pm
  22. Diana #

    Wow! What a great bear! I run a diabetes program in the south/central Bronx, NY and some if my kids live in shelters so I have partnered with JDRF but this bear would be a great supplement to my kids. Thanks for sharing the history of this bear and all that it will bring to to families!
    Diana

    03/16/17; 9:17 pm
  23. Lori Zustiak #

    That’s amazing! Things have come a long way since I was diagnosed 27 years ago!

    03/16/17; 10:00 pm
  24. Tamara Smith #

    I’ve been following Jerry’s progress and woul love to get this cuddly bear.

    03/16/17; 10:33 pm
  25. Andrea #

    Thanks for sharing about Jerry. Can’t help but think of coworkers sweet little 3 year old that diagnosed with type 1 at Christmas – I’m sure she would love the bear.

    03/16/17; 11:15 pm
  26. I would love a Jerry! Thank you for sharing!

    03/16/17; 11:27 pm
  27. I liked the idea of Jerry but the price point was pretty steep, $55 and a free app sounds a lot better! 🙂

    03/17/17; 12:34 am
  28. Sharon Chrisman #

    Feeding his butt… ;D

    03/17/17; 1:01 am
  29. Cathy #

    I’m still laughing at the idea of feeding Jerry’s butt! I’ve had T1D for over 13 years, and I now live in Portugal. I would love to share Jerry with the local Lisbon support group. Thanks for your posts, Kerry. Always a pleasure!

    03/17/17; 3:06 am
  30. Jennifer #

    This sounds awesome! I am amazed at the changes even within the three years my daughter has been a part of this T1D community! I will have to look at putting the app on our ipad. Trying to keep her phone as just a CGM device and an emergency like to call Mom. Maybe we’ll hit get the luck of the Irish and land on a lucky number. Then she could enjoy feeding his butt!

    03/17/17; 9:19 am
  31. Emily Lenneman #

    This is awesome! Even though I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 23 {and 6 weeks pregnant}, I would love for my 5 month old son to have Jerry someday! Such a great idea. Thanks!!

    03/17/17; 9:25 am
  32. Sarah Brooks #

    My son received Rufus when he was diagnosed six years ago at age six (like you, Kerri). I would love to have Jerry to share with other newly-diagnosed kids. Also, I’m really looking forward to meeting you at the TypeOneNation Wisconsin Summit on May 6! I’ve been following your blog for the last five years, and you have helped me through some rough times of dealing with T1D. You also led me to the Dexcom and later to the Tandem t:slim, which have been great for my son. Thanks!

    03/17/17; 10:21 am
  33. Jennifer #

    This is fantastic! I also had the orange at diagnosis , a snugly bear would have been so much better! I’d love to share this with my 4 year old to give more information in an interactive way. I’ll definitely check out the App!

    03/17/17; 2:01 pm
  34. Sylvain Lachance #

    Wow, what a sweet Teddy Bear ! I’D sure love to get one fore my son Joseph. He’s been diagnosed at 15 months old only :-/. He’s now 3 years old and Jerry would help him a lot to understand his diabete.

    03/17/17; 5:22 pm
  35. Obviously Jerry the Bear will look good alongside my Lenny, who my grandchildren have been taking to show and tell at school these past three years. I am excited to win one, but jsut as excited ot buy one.

    03/17/17; 9:22 pm
  36. Emily #

    I would love to have this for my son. He starts Kindergarten next year and it would be great to bring into school to teach his class about diabetes.

    03/17/17; 9:51 pm
  37. Wendy #

    We have been following Jerry the Bear since before he came out.
    So exciting! My 6 yr old thinks he is so cool! Although I have to keep her from
    using her insulin pen on him, lol!

    03/18/17; 1:15 am
  38. Jen #

    Would love to have a Jerry to help my 2.5 year old understand his mom’s diabetes as he gets older!

    03/18/17; 9:34 am
  39. Rachel #

    I’d love a Jerry the bear for my son!

    03/22/17; 2:36 pm

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