Young Therapeutic Clowns Bring Gift of Laughter & Happiness to Disadvantaged Audiences in Hungary…
On Tuesday, August 4, Lev Leytzan (Hebrew for “The Heart of the Clown”), a New York based not- for-profit therapeutic clowning program, will embark of a humanitarian mission to Budapest, Hungary to give the gift of happiness to underserved populations such as residents of hospitals and nursing homes, Holocaust survivors and the disabled. This is the organization’s seventh overseas mission, which are primarily self-funded by the participants, and the trip coincides with International Clown Week.
“Many people don’t measure the value of happiness as it relates to health and well being,” explained Dr. Neal C. Goldberg, Founder and Director of Lev Leytzan. “But for more than five years, through our efforts here and abroad, Lev Leytzan’s young clowns have experienced first hand the healing effects of laughter and compassion.”
Lev Leytzan was founded in 2004 by Dr. Goldberg, a child and adolescent psychologist who couples his therapeutic expertise with his own professional clown training. More than 180 teens and young adults have participated in the program, learning clowning techniques and gaining important skills that will benefit them throughout life.
The clowns themselves make Lev Leytzan a unique group. They are all teenaged and young adult volunteers who have gone through a six-month period of extensive training in the physical, emotional, and psychological effects of clowning on both the patient and on the clown himself. A troupe of selfless and giving young people, they invigorate the lives of so many with their pure humanitarian spirit.
Adam Gindea (21) was a member of the first class of clowns to graduate from the Lev Leytzan program. He learned about the organization through his high school and was eager to get involved for many reasons, including remembrances of a family member who had been greatly moved by visits from therapeutic clowns during a childhood hospital stay.
The August trip marks Adam’s second international clowning mission. “I was fortunate to have participated in Lev Leytzan’s 2008 mission to Israel and Munich, where we met Holocaust survivors. I was incredibly moved by this experience and am very much looking forward to once again introducing Flower Top and Bonzo – my clowning alter egos – to these special people.”
The clowns of Lev Leytzan reach their audiences by transforming them from mere spectators into active participants in the antics. The distraction, the emotions, and the hope that come from laughing freely and actually influencing the interaction with the clowns provide audience members with a feeling of effectiveness that can go a long way in both physical and psychic healing. In addition, positive memories are formed with which the sick and disadvantaged people can gain strength as they heal.
“It is a happy coincidence that our mission coincides with International Clown Week, but what better time to celebrate the gift and lasting memories that laughter brings,” added Beth Friedlander, Director of Ambassadors Program, Lev Leytzan. “With increased funding from the public and private sector we plan to expand our international ambassadors program to include two to three missions each year.”
Founded in 2004 by Dr. Neal C. Goldberg, The Compassionate Clown Alley-Lev Leytzan has been training teens and young adults in the art of medical clowning and spreading joy and laughter to thousands of children and elderly in the New York area and in Israel. Dr. Goldberg, a clinical psychologist who treats children, teens, and adults, provides his clowns with opportunities to gain self-confidence and compassion at a young age through their abilities to entertain and cheer the sick and elderly.