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Healing Through Laughter: How Healthy Humor Brings Joy to Sick Kids

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Imagine a hospital bustling with medical professionals, anxious parents, and children facing health challenges beyond their years. Amidst this sea of uncertainty, one organization has been a beacon of light, using the power of laughter and entertainment to heal and uplift young hearts. Meet Dina Paul-Parks, the co-founder of Healthy Humor, a charity that has been transforming hospital experiences for children through the magic of healthcare clowning.

Inspiration Behind Healthy Humor

The story of Healthy Humor traces back almost four decades when Michael Christensen, one of the co-founders of the Big Apple Circus, was invited to perform at a New York City children’s hospital. Little did he know that a spontaneous decision to don a doctor’s coat would pave the way for something extraordinary. As a clown, he parodied the highest authority in the hospital, the doctors themselves, bringing smiles to the faces of children amidst their pain and fear. This serendipitous moment birthed healthcare clowning, the foundation on which Healthy Humor now stands.

Dina Paul-Parks explains the motivation behind the charity, stating, “We do this work because hospitals are scary places for most people, even more so when you are a child. There is something magical about hearing laughter and utter delight ring through the halls of a place that is so often filled with pain and dread.” Healthy Humor’s unique approach combines comedy, theater, and circus arts to short-circuit harm and blunt the force of trauma in real-time, making a significant impact on the emotional well-being of young patients.


Entertainment Programs for Hospitalized Children

Healthy Humor’s mission to bring joy to sick kids extends through its flagship program, “Clown Rounds.” Red Nose Docs, professional artists from various disciplines, engage with children in a gentle parody of the intimidating hospital environment, empowering them through play and distraction from pain. Working in teams of two, these specially-trained entertainers become a consistent presence in partner hospitals, fostering resilience and hope.

Dr. Paul-Parks emphasizes the importance of careful selection and training for the entertainers, recognizing the unique challenges they may face. To excel in this niche field, the artists must connect with the child underneath the hospital gowns, navigating delicate situations with care and compassion.

Spreading Joy Beyond Hospital Walls

The impact of Healthy Humor goes beyond hospital walls. The charity has partnered with the healthcare clowning community globally, sharing their expertise and insights. Their work at the Healthcare Clowning International Meeting in The Hague, The Netherlands, showcased the transformative power of laughter and creativity.

Furthermore, Healthy Humor seeks to expand its reach and community impact. Beyond hospital engagements, they actively participate in community events, fairs, and fundraisers, spreading laughter and fun wherever they go. They also conduct innovative workshops, like Community Connections, fostering understanding and bonding between police officers and young people.


Touching Lives Through Laughter: Heartwarming Stories

The heartfelt impact of Healthy Humor’s work is evident through heartwarming anecdotes shared by Dr. Paul-Parks. From empowering a young burn victim to complete PT sessions to helping a medical student examine a toddler with laughter and bubbles, these stories exemplify the magic that unfolds when laughter becomes medicine.

Supporting Healthy Humor’s Mission

While Healthy Humor’s work is deeply rewarding, it comes with its share of challenges. As a niche field, the organization faces resource constraints. To achieve their goals and expand their programs, they call upon the entertainment industry and public figures to help raise awareness and support. By hosting celebrities on their “Clown Rounds” and encouraging them to share their experiences, Healthy Humor aims to catalyze a viral movement, amplifying their impact.

A Brighter Future Ahead

Healthy Humor has bold aspirations for the future. Their vision includes doubling the number of hospital partners and expanding programs to support communities facing crises, both natural and man-made. By partnering with individuals and institutions, they aim to grow and diversify their field, ensuring laughter reaches more children in need.

Through the unwavering dedication of Dina Paul-Parks and her team at Healthy Humor, laughter becomes a powerful source of healing and transformation. As we step into the magical world of healthcare clowning, let us join hands and support their mission of bringing joy and hope to sick children, one smile at a time.

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