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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Clowning Around


by Bethany

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Recently, our OT 540 Leadership Capstone class had a visit from an AOTA member who was able to discuss with our class the importance of advocacy and quality in OT. The speaker was invited to stay for our next special presentation. And the “presentation” was a visit from clowns. Yes. Three clowns, complete with red noses, hats, and names like Yebo, showed up in our Zoom meeting. At first, the whole class of 138 people was extremely confused. Our serious discussion about the quality of OT services had suddenly turned into Captain Noodles asking our professor if she had picked her nose today. One of our classmates got so freaked out he hid under his desk and was deemed by the clowns to be a professional escape artist.

As various text messaging groups pinged back and forth trying to find the source of the hilarity, one of my friends sent a link to the Institute for Theatre & Social Change (ITSC) and their medical clowning program, and we recognized one of the clowns who visited us on their website. The medical clowns use laughter and humor to impact medical and psychological benefits. The program itself is a unique partnership between the USC School of Dramatic Arts and other medical centers associated with USC, such as LAC+USC Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, where the clowns will do clowning rounds and visit patients at these sites. However, with safety regulations due to the pandemic, the clowns have moved to virtual platforms. You can even sign up for your own 15 minute Zoom clowning session!

It is amazing to see our fellow students from other schools across USC coming together to impact health. Thank you for your visit! As strange as it was to have three clowns show up during our Zoom meeting, it was a nice stress-reliever and a good laugh. Keep up the good clowning work! And, fellow students, as we head into finals season, keep laughing and keep being your awesome selves.

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