Saving Kids With Play and Laughter


This past weekend, Musepa and I attended the annual Improv Marathon fundraiser at one of our favorite local live comedy clubs, The Hideout (find out more about it here).

Although we have been attending the annual Improv Marathon for the last several years, and I knew it was done as a fundraiser for their kids programs (generating scholarship monies for kids in need, special needs kids, etc.), I never really knew exactly what they did or the potential impact…   Until yesterday…

Some of the things they have been able to do in the last couple years with the monies they have raised are:

1. …to allow 13 kids to participate in summer camps or classes who otherwise would not have been able to afford them

2. …to discount show prices to bring Flying Theater Machine to area libraries and schools, thus exposing kids from all over Austin to improv and interactive theater.

3. …to discount workshops at Libraries to introduce kids to the basic concepts of improv, enhancing their engagement with the arts

4. [to] offer 6 scholarships to kids for the Special Needs classes, so that kids with special needs could attend classes that wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

5. …to run a weekly class in a shelter to bring enrichment, social skills, and a fun break to homeless children and their parents.

6. …to provide an improv teacher for the Andy Roderick Foundation, Side by Side Foundation, and Austin Center for Education to bring enrichment to very low income kids.

7. …helped send two staff members to the Applied Improv Conference where they spoke about the Special Needs program – from that one of our staff members will now be teaching these concepts in a program in Indiana this summer, ensuring that even more special needs children get access to this remarkable therapeutic tool.

8. …provided weekly improv classes to at-risk foster youth in a residential treatment setting at a significantly discounted price.  (adapted from their website here)

This awareness came near the end of the final and 47th hour of the marathon, when the staff at The Hideout shared a video they had just completed the day before, showing some of the kids who participate in their programs and some of what they do. It was so powerful I am not sure there was a completely dry eye in the house! (Although I know many of us were rather, or very, sleep deprived from attending so many or odd-houred comedy shows over the weekend.  You can see for yourself here just what these amazingly dedicated improv-ers are doing to help heal kids, and the world, one person at a time.)

It really got me thinking about the benefits of volunteering as well as the power of laughter, play, connections, friendship and community.

While digging around on the topic of the healing power of laughter and play, I also was reminded of the amazing movie Patch Adams (if you have never watched this, please do so!). While the movie did have somewhat poor critical reviews, audiences enjoyed it and it does tell the story of Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams (he also wrote a book entitled “Gesundheit:  Good Health is a Laughing Matter”. (Check out the book here.)

The story tells of a younger Hunter Adams (played by Robin Williams), who “commits himself into a mental institution. Once there, he finds that using humor, as opposed to the indifferent sessions provided by their doctor, to help his fellow patients gives him a purpose in life. Because of this he wants to become a medical doctor and two years later enrolls at the Medical College of Virginia (now known as VCU School of Medicine) as the oldest first year student. He questions the school’s soulless approach to medical care and clashes with the school’s Dean Walcott (Bob Gunton), who believes that doctors must treat patients as patients and not bond with them as people. Because of this and incidents such as setting up a giant pair of legs during an obstetric conference, he is expelled from the medical school, although he is later reinstated due to his methods actually helping patients improve. Adams encourages medical students to work closely with nurses, learn interviewing skills early, and argues that death should be treated with dignity and sometimes even humor.”  (All taken from the Wikipedia write-up about the movie, which you can read in more detail here.)

Also, remember that cultivating humor and/or laughter into your life can help alleviate emotional stress, which helps prevent stress-related diseases and enhances health. It is the sustained release of stress (the fight or flight hormones) that can contribute to such things as hypertension (high blood pressure), nervous system disorders and many other health conditions. Not to mention that humor and laughter make life a lot more fun and bump up our happiness level!!!

Humor and/or laughter can also alleviate emotional stress, which enhances health by helping to prevent stress-related illness. Remember that the sustained release of stress, or “fight or flight,” hormones can contribute significantly to hypertension, nervous system disorders, and other health complications. Besides diminishing stress, humor and/or laughter can simply make us feel better and put us in good spirits. (You can read more about the medical benefits of humor and laughter by reading this post by Dr. Stephen Sinatra, here.)

You might remember the post from some time ago (check it out here), where I referred to Norman Cousins, an author, professor, and journalist. As a reminder, he used laughter and high does of Vitamin C to fight heart disease and neutralize his incurable arthritic condition.

Powerful mojo!!  Always remember and pull it out of your inner toolbox whenever needed.

Also, feel free to share this post and information with anyone you know who you feel would benefit from it.

Blessings to you and thank you for all the loving parenting you do; it makes a better world, one Sweetie at a time.

Hug attached,

Koolma  : )

Have you ever used humor, laughter or play as a way to do heal from something, connect with someone or take things in a magically positive direction?   Do you remember to use the power of humor in your day-to-day life?

We’d love to hear from you!  Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section so we can help each other; remember, we are all in this together!




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