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You Don't Have to Join a Circus to be a Clown

Posted Jan 14 2009 8:48pm

Clown Skool Makeup Session Did you ever think about being a clown?  I didn't, until I discovered a hospital clown ministry made up of volunteers.

Several weeks ago my clown journey began as I was doing some research on laughter and humor therapy. I met Becky Cortino through a free online class she was teaching on the topic called Healing Humor: Live Happy - Be Healthy! I learned that Becky was also the coordinator for a nonprofit volunteer group of clowns and creative arts performers called Charlie's Chaplains.

I was intrigued by the concept of volunteers helping hospital patients and staff by applying the concept of humor therapy. So intrigued, that I traveled to Hickory, North Carolina to participate in their annual clown "skool."

Frye Regional Medical Center Charlie's Chaplains' Skool '08 At the Frye Regional Medical Center Charlie's Chaplains' Skool '08, they taught the basics of:

  • Creating a clown face
  • Developing a clown costume
  • Face painting
  • Laugh yoga
  • Puppeteering
  • Juggling

They also discussed many critical items that apply specifically to performing in a hospital:

  • How to determine the patient rooms you can enter
  • How to approach patients
  • how to maintain cleanliness within and between patient rooms
  • How to approach children to avoid them getting scared
  • How to handle certain circumstances

Juggling class Clown Skool was extremely fun and informative. I was even able to see Magic's Royal Duke Sammy Cortino conduct a special performance for us.

I met many volunteers who are passionate about performing in the hospital setting. Some of them have multiple personalities. I mean that in a good way! They have multiple costumes and distinct personalities to go with each. They're generous with their time and talents, bringing smiles to the faces of the hospital staff and patients.

FRMC Charlie's Chaplains surprised me by making me an honorary member of their group. I am only the second honorary member since they started in 1991. What an honor and privilege!

If you have a desire to learn more about participating in a hospital clown and performing arts ministry, let Becky know (Twitter: @BeckyCortino). She has the expertise and materials available to get you started. You can help others when they need a smile the most.

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