Clowns on Call: Healing with humor

10:50 PM, Dec 13, 2012   |    comments
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By Mike Bush

CREVE COEUR, Mo. (KSDK) - If they've learned one thing over the years at Mercy Hospital, it's that nothing is more infectious than a smile. They've been few and far between lately for 12-year-old Garrison Gosling.

"He was in rough shape yesterday and last night. A lot of pain," said his dad, Darren Gosling.

When you've had corrective back surgery, you'd expect they'd send in a doctor or send in a nurse, you don't expect that they'd send in the clowns.

Claire Wedemeyer is making her rounds for a program called Clowns on Call.

"I always tell them, we heard you couldn't come to the circus today so we decided to bring a little of the circus to you," she explained.

Weidemeyer is a performer with Circus Flora and today she's working in concert with a very talented musician.

"Claire and I work off of each other. It's sort of improvisatory in a way which is completely different that what I do on a daily basis," explained violinst Angie Smart.

Smart knows far more about Brahms than Bozo. She's been a First Violinist with the St. Louis Symphony since 1998 but she jumped at the chance to join the Symphony cares program in their partnership with Circus Flora.

"I'm not playing Tchaikovsky," Smart laughed. "There's a little bit of fiddling going on in there."

With a wagon full of circus props, Claire and Angie go from room to room handing out prescriptions for laughter.

"The goal everyday is to make it easier for the child to be here in the hospital," said Alberta Lee of Mercy Hospital.

"Almost every visit I have, the parent says that's the first time I've seen my child laugh all week," said Wedemeyer.

Since the program started last February, Clowns on Call has entertained more than 1,200 patients. But whether the audience is just one child or a dozen, there's little argument that every performance is meaningful.

"If we can change the focus for a few moments then we have by proxy become kind of a healing art," said Wedemeyer.

Garrison hopes to be out of the hospital in just a few days but his review of Clowns on Call is already in. He gave it a thumbs up.

"It cheered me up," he said.

Clowns on Call. Helping to show what we've always heard that laughter is the best medicine.

The St. Louis Symphony and Circus Flora are also teaming up at Powell Hall. On December 14, 15 and 16 they are presenting "A Child's Christmas in Wales," combining circus acts like the high wire and cloud swing with the Symphony's amazing music.

For more information visit the St. Louis Symphony website.


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