Bear hunt takes off in Blue Mountains

In the movie Life is Beautiful a Jewish father and his family are surrounded by Nazi death camps. Living in a hostile environment, he uses humor to shield his young son from the grim realities of war.

Now socially distant teddy bear hunts are popping up all around the world to divert children's thoughts away from the coronavirus pandemic.

Ten-year-old Ainsley Ferguson of Wentworth Falls is one student who has put her hand up to participate in the hunt - adding a bear to her window and hoping others might do the same.

There's a bear in there making us all feel better: Socially distant teddy bear hunts are popping up all around the world to distract children from the coronavirus pandemic

There's a bear in there making us all feel better: Socially distant teddy bear hunts are popping up all around the world to distract children from the coronavirus pandemic

"I am 10-years old. I go to Blue Mountains Grammar School but at the moment I am working from home because of COVID-19," she told the Gazette.

"I read an article from the ABC talking about a bear hunt. The bear hunt is a way of distracting young children from the COVID-19 news."

Her mum Briannen calls it "a good distraction". They have a notepad and are regularly scouring their neighbourhood, hoping others will join in the 'hunt'.

"Ainsley is definitely aware of how much the virus is changing her little world," she said.

"School, dance and sport have all been changed to online/at home lessons and the normal things we do as a family, like go shopping or play tennis, aren't happening at the moment," she said.

"I am a little worried about her missing her friends and social/sport activities and being part of her school community. She has had moments of real worry, and of course that makes me sad for how she will remember this time, but overall she has taken things in her stride."

She has had moments of real worry and of course that makes me sad for how she will remember this time

According to reports the teddy hunt began in the U.S state of Kansas or Pennsylvania and was picked up in Melbourne. It is gaining momentum via a Facebook group.

Ainsley and her Mum felt the Gazette could promote the campaign around her Blue Mountains community.

"Perhaps it can bring a little bit of fun into the current situation and make people feel connected when we have to physically distance ourselves," Mrs Ferguson said.

"I think it's a really easy way for everyone in a local area to take part in something that is positive and brings a bit of joy to kids and families who can't get together and play like they would normally do.

"The news can be so overwhelming for kids and adults as well, so to have a small bit of fun while this is going on is a really nice experience. The bear hunt is probably something that can even continue after any lockdown ends."

Ainsley said she is in the process of telling her friends "so they can tell others to put bears in their window or fence".

"We can 'play' whenever we go out in the car or a walk (away from others of course) so it's fun to keep an eye out and see if we can spot bears wherever we go," her mum added.

They reminded children not to touch any teddy bear left in a public space.