Therapeutic medical clowning offers much-needed relief to children whose physical ailments trigger equally painful mental symptoms
Therapeutic medical clowning in healthcare may sound like an eccentric idea to some, yet it is a time-honored part of the tradition of alternative medicine – its faces in Israel are Dream Doctors, a medical clowns organization.
“We have over 100 clowns in hospitals all around Israel and these clowns are professional, therapeutic, humorous clowns who work with the medical staff to improve the way children undergo different procedures” in hospitals, Max Eisenberg, who goes by “Nimrod,” told i24NEWS.
The Dream Doctors’ mission is to take kids they meet in hospitals and make their dreams come true.
Their vision is simple – they give specialized care to over 220,000 patients each year, addressing their patients’ invisible pains and feelings of abandonment, isolation, loneliness, anger, and expressions of depression.
“After I worked in the oncology department and I saw all the things that kids can dream about is to be healthy,” said Smadar Harpak, whose clown name is “Shemesh,” meaning “Sun” in Hebrew.
“And I want to give them the opportunity to dream about anything they want, like a normal child, like a normal family. And I think ‘if we are the clowns, and we want to take them out of the hospitals, to take this fantasy out of the hospital, then how can we do it?’ So we must have a clown car… a car that the child will see and the fantasy will just begin when they get into it. So this is the ‘clown-bulance’.”
“As you can see, there’s music that we put also outside and they can speak in the speaker to the people outside. You want to show them what’s inside?” Smadar asked.
“It’s an all-colorful and imaginative car. A little bit like what a kid would draw on a picture as a wonderful car in his imagination,” Eisenberg said. “And part of the experience for these kids is to ride in a special, unique car with everybody watching them and applauding and taking pictures. This is part of the project where the children see the fantasy coming to life.”
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