Intern Koh Weilin discovers what it takes to be Singapore General Hospital’s popular mascot, SAM Bear, and learns that making people smile is hard work.

If you are an SGH staff, you probably know that SAM Bear is the hospital’s friendly mascot for kindness and staff wellbeing. 

Like most people who have seen a mascot but have never experienced being inside one, I never truly thought about how difficult it could be to be the lovable front of an organisation. 

However, I recently got to experience what it is like to fill SAM’s furry shoes  – and let’s just say I will never look at another mascot the same way again!

You see, SAM Bear needed help to have some new official photos taken and only a tiny person could fit the bill, er…I mean the suit. 

It was truly a challenge to walk in SAM Bear’s shoes. They were bulky and oversized and every step had to be treaded with care so that SAM Bear does not trip and fall. 

I must report that SAM Bear has limited field of vision. He could also do with some physiotherapy, so that he can move his head more easily. 

As you can imagine, SAM Bear was quite blind. Needless to say, stairs were a big no no. That would be counter-wellbeing if staff saw SAM Bear tumbling down a flight of stairs! Can you imagine SAM Bear turning up at the A&E as a patient? 

It was a sunny day, great for photo taking but not so great for SAM Bear. Even with a personal fan to cool his head, he was sweating profusely, felt sticky and uncomfortable.

And no matter what emotion the photographer called for,  SAM Bear always had the same facial expression! Ever the pro, SAM Bear made up for this by exaggerating his movements and poses so that he would appear happy and full of energy. That was no mean feat considering that he was feeling hot, sweaty, wobbly and quite blind. 

Luckily for SAM and I, the photoshoot went smoothly and soon SAM Bear was able to go off duty.

Through all that discomfort, I could not help but notice the faces of passers-by. They lit up in glee when they saw SAM Bear walking down the corridor, enroute to the SGH Museum, waving away to everyone. A patient even excitedly stopped SAM Bear to take a photo with him. As we paused to strike a pose, I found myself smiling as well – happiness truly is contagious!

Follow @hi_sambear on IG and Staff Well-Being on Workplace for SAM Bear's workplace adventures and wellbeing tips at SGH. Tag and share your photos with him, I’m sure he would love to see those smiles.