Why I Started My Hope Bear™

Hi, my name is Dr. Linda Olson. I’m a clinical psychologist and the mother of three sons. Let me tell you why I started My Hope Bear.

As the eldest of six children, I grew up in a violent and abusive home. I lived in constant fear and blamed myself for a lot of the violence. This is not uncommon. Many children who grow up with trauma blame themselves, and carry a lot of guilt and shame into their adult lives.

As a child I had a lot of anxiety, a hard time calming myself down and learning to self-soothe. I can remember sobbing uncontrollably, screaming, and sometimes even destroying the toys I had. I did this to distract myself from the emotional turmoil inside the house. Two of my sisters also witnessed childhood domestic violence (CDV) and engaged in self-destructive behaviors. Years later, Ann was killed by an ex-boyfriend and Mary died homeless. I created a therapeutic Teddy Bear to help children growing up with trauma and loss learn to self-regulate and self-soothe.

In memory of my two sisters, I also designed and patented the two hearts awareness ribbon found on one of the paws. “You are not alone” is inscribed on the other paw. Most kids who grow up with trauma suffer in silence and feel very alone and isolated.

I created My Hope Bear for two reasons. Help children self-regulate and self-soothe. Give children a friendly companion to help them feel listened to, validated and understood. In psychology, we call this a “transitional object.” Research shows children who grow up using transitional objects have less anxiety and stress and learn to self- regulate.

My passion and commitment is that My Hope Bear gets into the arms of every child experiencing anxiety, trauma, grief and loss. In addition to calming emotions, my wish is that My Hope Bear can help children feel loved and connected.

Anna Cley

Hi, my name is Anna Cley. I’m an opera singer, a transformational artist, and the author of “The Journey of the Heart.” Let me tell you why I joined My Hope Bear.

I fell into opera singing when I was 12, and it saved my life. Among other traumatic experiences, I was not free to laugh or cry. I escaped in books, often hiding under my blanket with a lamp at night to finish reading before falling asleep. I didn’t talk much, and was introverted and shy.

Opera singing taught me to get out of my shell. The music in the scores gave me a way to express the sadness and frustration I couldn’t otherwise. I pursued opera because I had a voice that deeply touched others, but it has been my greatest healer.

I have since my twenties been volunteering in hospitals, bringing creative solutions to children impacted by trauma. I accepted Linda’s invitation to create original music for My Hope Bear, and our aim is to combine the benefits of a transitional object with the calming and comforting power of music.

The combination of a weighted teddy bear and soothing music will provide a unique approach that could have a lasting therapeutic effect on children. We’ll also lead live events, and create videos to achieve My Hope Bear’s mission.