In the world of medicine, laughter is often said to be the best medicine. This sentiment stands at the core of Healthy Humor, a nonprofit organization committed to spreading joy and light in hospitals across America through its charismatic ‘Red Nose Docs.’ Founded in 2016, Healthy Humor has its roots in the legendary Big Apple Circus and a mission that radiates positivity.
Dina Paul-Parks, the current CEO and co-founder of Healthy Humor, brings with her a wealth of experience from her tenure as the Vice-President of Community Programs for the Big Apple Circus. Together with Karen McCarty and Deborah Kaufmann, the trio bring an impressive 60 years of experience to their leadership roles, helping guide the work of the Red Nose Docs.
Healthy Humor has touched the lives of over 600,000 children through the power of laughter, but their reach extends beyond the pediatric ward. The Red Nose Docs also delight elderly residents in critical care with their engaging, Vaudeville-style visits. Emphasizing humor and exaggerated interactions, they spark joy in the lives of elders with dementia who may struggle to engage with traditional visitors.
This innovative approach has led to increased participation and enjoyment among these seniors, shedding light on the transformative impact of humor in healthcare settings. Moreover, the Red Nose Docs work hand-in-hand with healthcare professionals to enhance their interactions with young patients, aiming to create emotional connections that can alleviate stress and anxiety for both the children and their parents.
Healthy Humor’s commitment to community connection is further highlighted through its latest initiative: the Community Connections program. This groundbreaking venture has successfully brought together middle school students from Harlem, New York, and local police officers, fostering unity between communities of color and the local police force.
A memorable community pizza party marked the culmination of this 8-week program, with participants engaging in laughter-filled games and bonding activities. This event, held at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Community Center, reinforced the importance of community connection and the role humor can play in bridging divides.
Healthy Humor’s impact extends even further, reaching the gates of The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp, a unique summer camp founded by Paul Newman for children battling illnesses and their families. For three decades, Healthy Humor has contributed performers to this remarkable institution, providing an opportunity for these children to experience the joys of summer camp, complete with medical staff and specialized resources.
The camp’s volunteers, doctors, and nurses strive to create lasting memories for the families attending, all the while offering a range of unique services, such as the CampOut van, which brings the camp experience directly to families’ homes.
CEO Dina Paul-Parks encapsulates Healthy Humor’s vision, saying, “Joy and laughter have a transformative effect not only on the kids and families in our partner hospitals but also in crises outside of the hospital walls.”
Healthy Humor has big plans for the future. Among them are a summer party with a celebrity guest, a national professional development conference for performers, and an ambition to establish new chapters in more cities to touch the lives of even more children and families.
These exciting developments highlight Healthy Humor’s commitment to making the world a happier place, one laugh at a time. For those who wish to learn more about Healthy Humor or The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp, visit their websites at https://www.healthyhumorinc.org/ and https://www.holeinthewallgang.org/about/.
May this serve as a reminder that in a world where hardships are inevitable, joy and laughter are forces capable of transforming lives, and organizations like Healthy Humor are leading the charge with a red nose and a radiant smile.