Nonprofit Organization Healthy Humor Marks The Culmination of Their Community Connections Pilot Program With A Neighborhood Celebration

For over 40 years, national nonprofit Healthy Humor has been creating joy for hospitalized children and people in need. The Red Nose Docs program, a service in which Healthy Humor sends professional performers into pediatric hospitals, helps more than 160,000 New Yorkers at five different hospitals, including the Harlem Hospital Center, every year.

Healthy Humor has had one job since its inception- to turn moments of trauma into moments of joy, wonder, and resilience.

Red Nose Docs has provided that for many children in 15 partner hospitals across the country, from New York to Miami to Philadelphia.

“[Our performers] understand that their primary purpose in this role is to serve those who are hurting, not to “perform,” said Healthy Humor Co-Founder and CEO Dina Paul-Parks. “It’s incredibly powerful work, and I can’t wait for more people to learn about how life-changing it can be.”

Healthy Humor emerged from the Big Apple Circus almost 40 years ago and has been serving communities ever since. While their reach has grown over the years, their long-term vision has stayed the same.

“At its core, this work is about short-circuiting harm… there is no shortage of that in our world right now. From the floors of children’s hospitals, to suffering communities, to times of upheaval and societal change, to everyday interactions, trauma is affecting us all,” said Paul-Parks. “Our job is to enter the spaces -all of the spaces- where harm occurs and to help bring about empathy, connection, and healing.”

Now, Healthy Humor has expanded their reach to the streets of central Harlem with their pilot program Community Connections, a service in which police officers of the 32nd precinct and students from Democracy Prep Charter Middle School engage in interactive activities and focused reflection to understand and embrace each other’s differences while attempting to bridge the gap between the police and communities of color.

These students and officers have been growing and learning from each other for eight weeks and on May 16, 2023, they celebrated that progress at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Community Center. Dina Paul-Parks, 32nd Precinct Commanding Officer Amir Yakatally, and the students of Democracy Prep Charter Middle School came together for a pizza party to reflect and celebrate their shared experiences.

The magic of Healthy Humor’s work is no longer just in hospitals, it is now embedded into communities. The success of this program proves the importance of police officers becoming a part of the fabric of the neighborhoods they serve, and Healthy Humor has begun that process in Central Harlem.

Healthy Humor’s pilot program was funded by the Altman Foundation.

For more information about this event and Healthy Humor as a whole, visit here.

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