The Wonderful "Clown Care Unit" Delivers Smiles to Young Hospital Patients
A pop of color in a sterile hallway. A loud peal of laughter from a room that had felt quiet and sad. A huge smile below the shaved head of a young cancer patient. These are just some of the gifts that The Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit provides to kids and families at the hospitals where they work.
"We... try to create a sense of normal in an environment that is far from normal," explains Matthew Pauli, aka Dr. Spats, a member of the Clown Care Unit.
Every year, the Clown Care Unit team of about 80 professional artists completes nearly 225,000 visits to young patients in pediatric hospitals across the United States. We tagged along with Dr. Spats and Dr. Boots (Bill Boots) at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, and got to witness firsthand the way that the Clown Care Unit can transform the hospital experience for both the young people and their families.
"Often what we hear from families is, gee, I hadn't seen my child laugh in three weeks," Bill Boots says. "It gives them the chance to remember the child they brought in."
Annie Beatson, who works in the Child Life Department at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, has observed just what Bill describes many times.
"Parents, a lot of times, most embrace the experience with [the Clown Care Unit] because they're like, 'That's my child! Finally, he's returned. He's back with me,'" Annie explains.
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