Red nose doses of happiness and health

Red nose doses of happiness and health

Imagine a drab and gloomy scene of a hospital where children undergoing treatment for some ailment – serious or otherwise, are bravely fighting pain, bearing injections and swallowing pills and medicines. Suddenly some modern day angels make their appearance here and completely transform the place with bubbles, fun, music, dance, drama, tricks, books, songs and stories. And lo! All pain is forgotten for a while and the little children’s faces light up with smiles in spite of the tears. Studies have shown that fun and laughter accompanied by emotional bonding go a long way in the process of healing; and the joy in the form of memories left behind with the child is immeasurable.
Meet these angels who are called therapeutic clowns – Dr. Boeing who is also a magician and Dr. Bindaas, a gypsy by nature. They have brought cheer and joy to many an ailing child. They have their wigs and red clown noses on. A touch of clown make-up and an attire to match completes their get-up. Some children at the hospital initially look at them apprehensively. But soon their fears disappear with Dr. Boeing’s magical tricks and Dr. Bindaas’s hand puppets that enact stories. Chances are that they will not even be recognized when they are not dressed as clowns and adorn their other ordinary, regular personalities as Sanjay Balsavar and Milli Jalan.

Docteur Clown India, India’s first therapeutic clown troupe was started in 2006 by a French lady called Severine Blanchet who was leading an interesting life of photographer and fire-fighter in Paris.  This concept originated in 1950 in Russia and was made popular by the famous movie ‘Patch Adams’.  It is gaining ground and spreading in France, Canada, Australia and the U.S. Docteur Clowns have to go through a disciplined training – 4 classes of theory and observation sessions through 7 workshops to become assistant junior clowns and are then promoted to become senior clowns. Three weeks after the workshop, all clowns go through a ‘Red Nose Ceremony’ where they are not only given the red nose mask but are formally transformed from ordinary persons to clowns. They also go through a crash course in drama, dance, art, mime, juggling, puppetry, singing, story-telling etc… depending on their talents and skills.

Therapeutic clowns are different from theatric or circus clowns. They cannot rehearse any act before hand but have to be spontaneous enough to do impromptu acts after gauging the situation, mood and health conditions of the children. And of course there is no material gain involved – their only aim being to divert the attention of the children from pain for some time and lighten the atmosphere.

They have to go about their work without hindering the doctors’ and nurses’ job or the treatment of the children. This whole concept is based on the belief that laughter speeds up healing. It has actually been scientifically proved that laughter reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, elevates spirits, boosts immunity, improves brain function, safeguards the heart, exercises the lungs, helps sleep better and promotes longevity.

Keeping the patients’ best interests in mind, these agents of fun follow WHO (World Health Organization) standards of hygiene very strictly. The clothes and accessories used in the ICU and peadiatric wards are freshly washed and sterilized.

Sometimes these clowns manage to relieve the stress of parents attending to these kids and also the doctors and nurses who suddenly seem more human and thus the distance between them and the little patients is bridged. So next time, God forbid you land up in a hospital for some reason or are visiting a sibling, friend or cousin, look out or ask for these funsters as they network with many hospitals in the city. Anyone who is an adult but not a student can join this troupe and pool in their bit to heal the world and make it a better place, as the famous Michael Jackson song goes. So, spread the word to adults who might be interested and ask them to call Mili on 9845901440 or Sanjay on 9844053758 .

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