Hospital Humor Program

Golisano Children’s Hospital: A Day to Remember
By Mina Liccione

After many months of planning, emails, meetings and approvals, I was thrilled to finally start our outreach Hospital Humor Program at Golisano Children’s Hospital. Though I reside in Dubai, I return to New York throughout the year and will make regular visits during each trip.

The day started out with a creative workshop with a group of young inpatients, some parents, and interns, in the colorful communal activity room. I entered the space and introduced myself as “Dr. Mina La-la-lee-lee-lu-lu-shnee-nee-pssst.” I then explained that “some doctors specialize in feet, some in the spine, but I specialize in the funny bone! And today I am going to make sure your funny bones are healthy!”

We then did a series of rhythm and funny face exercises, improv’ comedy games and circus skills. I ended the workshop with a solo physical comedy, song and tap dance performance dedicated to the children. I gave them all big hugs while joyfully saying “the next time I come back to the hospital I don’t want to see you! I’d rather come visit you at your home instead and we’ll play there!”

Then it was time to make clown rounds to the rooms of those who couldn’t come to the workshop. I had the great privilege of meeting, and sharing laughs, with many young patients. My heart was heavy as their smiles grew. In those moments life made sense. The reason why I am a comedian, and an artist, made sense. I felt my higher purpose thrive every time a tiny giggle emerged. We often forget just how much of an impact we can have on others. Something as small as making someone laugh, telling a story with funny character voices, singing a lullaby or putting on clown noses and pretend to sneeze is just what the doctor ordered!

Spirits were raised.

Laughs were shared.

Friendships were made.

It is in moments like this that life makes sense. A moment of clarity, when you are living your higher purpose and helping someone through a painful time. It was an honor to spend this precious time with the patients and their families.

I can’t wait until my next trip to New York!

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The Godmother – helping seniors

The Godmother
Reflections from August 9, 2013
By Mina Liccione

Today my mom and I headed to the senior center to visit her Godmother, Ellen. She has Parkinson’s disease and recently took quite a fall and broke her leg. She told the entire floor we were coming and had tears in her eyes as she hugged us tight. As I sat there listening to her stories, memories I didn’t even know I had started to flood. We stayed with her for physical therapy and made jokes throughout her session to keep her going. She did twice the amount as usual. We passed by many residents and offered a smile that each of them so graciously accepted. Loneliness filled the hall. Prior to moving to Dubai I created a character geared towards senior citizens, Audrey Heartburn, and put together a comedy and dance show that toured 20 Senior centers during the 2007 holiday season to bring them some joy. There aren’t nursing homes in Dubai so I haven’t had a chance to spend time at any in recent years. Today I was reminded of how important it is to go. Even if you don’t have a relative or family friend there, go! When you leave you will have many new friends. A simple smile, story, joke, gift… listening will brighten someone’s day. They told me that many of the residents couldn’t afford new clothes. It broke my heart. I decided in that moment that I am going to do a clothing and Christmas present drive for a number of New York based senior centers this year. One woman told me that she felt “forgotten”… no one should have to feel that way. I urge all of you to take a moment and go visit your elders. Stop by your local senior center and read them a story, share your art or passion, play a game…anything that makes you smile will make them smile. Just spending some time with them, asking them how they are and actually waiting for the answer will raise their spirits more than you know. We all have a bigger ability to help others than we think. It’s not always about spending money…. sometimes it’s just about sharing your time and energy. Put down the laptop and just show up. I only hope someone would be so kind to me when I’m older.  Today I realized that Parkinson’s is one strong disease, but love is stronger. 

“Humor keeps the elderly rolling along, singing a song. When you laugh, its an involuntary explosion of the lungs. The lungs need to replenish themselves with oxygen. So you laugh, you breathe, the blood runs, and everything is circulating. If you don’t laugh, you’ll die.”

Mel Brooks quote

RIP Evie

Rest in peace Evie Lake

Turning a sad day into a beautiful day- Playshop at Mawaheb

We all have certain days of the year that remind us of sad things that happened in our lives. Whether it be painful memories of a tragic incident or happy memories spent with a loved one who has passed away. We had wanted to visit Mawaheb studio the first week that they were back to school and we always go on a Tuesday. Upon looking at the calendar we realized that Tuesday was 9/11. 9/11 is indeed a day of remembrance and for some of us a very sad and reflective day. There’s an old saying “the best way to cheer oneself is to cheer another” and that is just what we did. As always, it proved to be a wonderful day of laughter and gratitude. So on those sad days, we encourage you to take a moment to reflect then take the next moment to help someone else. Take your pain and transform it into something joyous….. the rewards are greater than you can ever imagine.

Mawaheb from Beautiful People is an art school for teen and adult artists with special needs. The staff, teachers and students are extremely talented and passionate. Their art is from the heart. If you’d like to check out their studio, purchase art work or learn more about them click here: http://www.facebook.com/Mawahebart

Comedy acting class – the students watch each other present their funny solos

We worked on balancing skills. Here we were teaching the students the flick kick and catch trick.

Time to juggle!

Class clowns 🙂