Get to know this years' Kedma Medical Clowns
Hi, My name is Leora Sherman, I am from Edison, NJ and I am currently attending MMY (Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim).
I've always heard about the volunteer Medical Clown program from my siblings and neighbors who came to seminary, and immediately when they told me about it I knew that when I got to seminary I would want to be involved in this Chessed. Being a Medical Clown has taught me many lessons as well as give me memorable experiences.
One of my favorite experiences happened my first week volunteering. I was extremely nervous going in to see the patients for the first time and was afraid that I would do something wrong. About half way through I came into a room with a toddler and began playing with her and blowing bubbles. Immediately she started smiling and laughing and responding to what I was doing. As I was leaving the room the mother turned to me and said "Thank you" and then told me that this was the first time in 3 days that her child has smiled.
This experience really made me realize how much of an impact on the children I had by clowning. Seeing the child smile, I would never have guessed that this was her first time doing it in a while. If I can help make more smiles then my job is a success. Every week I have so much fun getting dressed in bright colors, taking the bus to the hospital, and making all these children happy and excited.
One of my funniest moments happened recently on a visit to a room with a tiny baby. The young mother got excited when I walked in and asked me to make a balloon hat. I started making a hat for her when I realized that she actually wanted me to make it for the baby. I made a tiny hat for the baby and she picked her up, put it on her head, and started taking pictures. She then handed me the baby and took pictures of us together as we tried to get the baby to laugh.
Volunteering as a medical clown has taught me how to break down the barrier between a "patient" and a "child" and reminds me that they may be sick, but they really just want to be like any ordinary child. I've also learned better communication skills for times when language isn't an option, and have learned that you never know what people want so you shouldn't be afraid to try something new.
Why did you decide to volunteer as a medical clown?
I am privileged to spend a year in this country and wanted to make sure I grabbed every opportunity. When Medical Clowning became an option, I just new it was something not to miss! I used to visit the hospital alot in London, but this gave me a chance to do exactly that- AND have an excuse to have a good time dressing up and jumping around at the same time.
Can you share a clowning experience that touched you in some way.
There were so sickly people in next door beds. I walked in an you could just tell the atmosphere was one of hopelessness and despair. I immediately whipped out my balloon modeling kit, blew to balloon dogs, handed them to the girls, and they started having a pretend dog fight. I left that room when both of them were smiling, laughing, and sounds of laughter were heard all the way down the corridor.
What is your favorite part of clowning?
My favorite part has got to be when I ask the patient what songs they like. then I proceed to take out my fake musical instruments and sing and dance for them. I love bring hype and positive energy to the room. (And I have no shame- because I really can't sing or dance!)
Is there something that has been inspiring to you?
The strength, determination, and attitude of those bed bound. They have no excuse to smile- yet they proudly do so anyway. Every time I'm done clowning, I never fail to appreciate the fact that I am able to walk both in, and OUT of that room, including the fact that I'm not on their side of the bed.
What was your funniest clowning moment?
Even though it's not strictly clowning, the funniest (and most awkward) moment has got to be walking down the streets of Geulah in my clowning costume on my way to the hospital!! The looks I got...
What have you learned from this experience that you will take with you in the future?
That i have the ability to affect the moods of those around me simply by being me. It has allowed me to step out of my own concerns and worries, and purely focus on the person in frount of me. I feel like I care more about people, truly have others interests in mind, and have develop talents that I could take with me and share with anyone.
Bringing smiles to sick children
"Patch Adams instilled within me a passion for using whatever skills I have to brighten up a hospital room."
-Eliana Pickholz - Midreshet HaRova
"Our tasks as a medical clown may be challenging at times, at that end of
the day we'll be rewarded with the smile on a child's face"
-Rina Landsman - MMY
"The training session tonight not only energized me for medical clowning itself, but as the only girl from my
seminary it also made me really excited to be able share this experience with such a diverse group of girls."
-Orah Burstyn - Tomer Devorah
"Kedma medical clowning is giving me the opportunity to channel my goofiness and crazy talents into something
productive and awesome."
-Adi Shulman - Midreshet Moriah