Send in the clowns
- Coastal Caring Clowns trains volunteers in the art of hospital clowning
- The voluntary organisation has 28 clowns
- Established in 2001 on the Sunshine Coast
- Received the 2018 Fisher Senior Community Group of the Year award
When it comes to the Coastal Caring Clowns laughter certainly is the best medicine.
The Coastal Caring Clowns were set up in 2001 by Barbara Brewster, who was a Caring Clown in Oregon, USA. She brought her knowledge and skills to the Sunshine Coast. Today the clowns regularly visit hospitals, nursing homes and respite centres and share laughter through song, performance or simply by giving someone a hug. They follow famous clown Patch Adams’ philosophy that laughter is the best medicine.
Robyn says the voluntary organisation has 28 clowns, four of whom (including Robyn) live at IRT The Palms including Jan Matthews, Di Burles and Sue Wellman. “I recruited three residents and they still have their L-plates,” she says.
Last financial year the clowns made an incredible 168 visits.
As president, Robyn spends about two days a week committed to the cause. The group raises money to fund their clowning through fundraising, sponsorship and government grants.
The group’s volunteers range in age from 30 to 84 and come from a variety of backgrounds, from young mums to retirees. Robyn explains the volunteers get so much out of it.
“It’s so rewarding, making people happy,” she says.
The clowns were recognised this year when the group received the 2018 Fisher Senior Community Group of the Year award, which recognises individuals and organisations who are leading the way in the electorate of Fisher in education, employment and retirement.
Robyn says when visiting nursing homes, residents with dementia join in the songs the clowns sing. “On the children’s ward at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital the clowns help to distract the children who might be having a procedure, such as a cannula put in,” Robyn explains. “The preterm babies love the clowns’ vivid colours.”
She laughs when she explains that when the clowns get together for a meeting it’s a disaster. “All everyone wants to do is tell jokes.”
But on a serious note she says they are a really caring group of total professionals.
The clowns are a well-known fixture in the community and are often booked well in advance. “People know us because we have been going for so long,” she says. “And we are the only group in Australia to do something like this.”
For more details about the clowns and their amazing work check out the Coastal Clowns website.