International Humanitarian Clowning and Healthcare since 1985
We began traveling and clowning around the world in 1985 and has grown every year since. In 2006 we began the Gesundheit Global Outreach programming to help us organize all the individual trips taken throughout the year.
Gesundheit Global Outreach Clowns (GO!CLOWNS) offers opportunities for volunteer social and medical activism around the world! Our missions have brought thousands of international volunteers to many of the world’s most distressed regions. GO!CLOWNS is a leader in developing the therapeutic role of the clown in healthcare settings and distressed communities worldwide .
GO!CLOWNS cultivates therapeutic alliances while combining healthcare with clowning, collaborative play, music, and art. We build clinics, provide humanitarian and medical care, and engage communities in collaborative community development projects.
The arrival of a good clown exercises a more beneficial influence upon the health of a town than of twenty asses laden with drugs. Thomas Sydenham, 1624-1689
Physician, and founder of clinical medicine and epidemiology
The beginnings – Gesundheit’s ‘nasal diplomacy” began when Patch led a group of volunteer clowns to the Soviet Union in 1985. The fundamentals of Gesundheit medical clowning and the structure of clown missions were developed in the annual Russia trip (now in it’s 30th year). What began with bedside clowning in hospitals expanded to include missions to orphanages, schools, psychiatric facilities, nursing homes and prisons.
From the bedside to the battlefield – In 1997, Gesundheit clowns came to Bosnia, our first experience clowning in war zones. This and subsequent clown missions to huge refugee camps (up to 250,000 people) in Macedonia (1999), Afghanistan, Serbia, Croatia (2002), Israel, Gaza, West Bank, (2002-2009, Algeria (2003), and Jordan (2014) gave us experience in working with traumatized communities. The clown, we learned, could impact health and wellbeing of communities, as well as individuals and families.
From the battlefield to building projects – From 1999- present, GO!CLOWNS led scores of humanitarian missions to Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. Our first annual Alternative Spring Break for college students began 2006. GO!CLOWNS missions have provided medical care, dispensed food and medicine, and funded the building of rural medical clinics in El Salvador(1999,2003).
Building bridges to health – Founded by GO!CLOWNS and Bolaroja Clown Doctors of Peru, the Belen Project began in 2006 as a multi-component, collaborative community development project in Belen, a profoundly disadvantaged riverside community in the Peruvian Amazon. The yearly Belen Festival brings 100 international clown volunteers to Belen for public health education, free mental health and family health clinics, mural painting, and educational outreach to Belen’s children.
Why we clown – We define clowning as “ spontaneous improvisational play” while wearing the red nose. The GO!CLOWNS method is to create, in the moment, joyful atmospheres enhancing the well-being of individuals and groups. The clown in play disturbs the status quo, exposing rigid social power gradients (sick/well, rich/poor, boss/worker, doctor/patient, prisoner/guard, etc) such that horizontal relationships emerge.
The clown, in effect, IS medicine. We have witnessed countless instances where collaborative play in the hospital setting eases suffering, promotes healing, and caregivers to hidden reservoirs of compassion and joy, enhancing intimacy with their patients, so often shut down in healthcare settings.
GO!CLOWNS has unparalleled experience working in communities damaged by poverty, calamity, or war. Clowning in combination with public health outreach can bring laughter and play back to the public space, and heal the damaged spirit of an entire community.
GO!CLOWNS physicians, nurses and staff clowns developed our clown/healthcare outreach into a coherent response to suffering, need and crisis. International and local humanitarian organizations (Airline Ambassadors, World Health Organization, United Nations Commissioner for Refugees, Amazon Promise) and humanitarian clown groups in Italy, Japan, Ecuador, Guatemala, Argentina, Russia and Peru are among the many service groups closely affiliated with Gesundheit! Institute.
To support this outreach:
Donate! Invest in making a happier, healthier world one smile at a time!
Volunteer on a clown trip!
We accept tax-deductible donations for our projects.
You can earmark how you want your donation to be used.
Support a clown scholarship for needy volunteer clowns.
Support building of community centers and clinics, or the providing of humanitarian aid.
Check clown trip announcements on the website, or facebook.
Support specific community development projects, micro-credit loans, and scholarships for needy children.
If you are interested in being a supporter or participant in Gesundheit! Global Outreach, click here!
Subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter at the top of this page.
Questions? Visit our FAQ.
Patch Adams MD & Gesundheit Institute, P.O. Box 307, Urbana, IL 61803
© Copyright 2023 Gesundheit! Institute
If you have ever felt positive about this project and agree with us that it should continue, we hope you'll be able to step up and donate some amount to help us keep going. Thank You!