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Therapeutic clown program

The Therapeutic Clown Program at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital was established in 2005.

Nurse Flutter and Nurse Polo

The Therapeutic Clown Program at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital was established by Therapeutic Clowns Canada in 2005.

Since its inception it has grown from a solo model therapeutic clown practice to a duo model (i.e. therapeutic clowns working in pairs). The clowns are:

  • Nurse Polo
  • Nurse Flutter
  • Caretaker Piccolo

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the Therapeutic Clowns visit all 3 inpatient units at Holland Bloorview (that is, Brain Injury Rehab, Specialized Orthopedic and Developmental Rehab, and Complex Continuing Care).

The Therapeutic Clown Program offers a diverse range of benefits to Holland Bloorview’s clients. Using skills including music, rhythm, movement, physical comedy and slapstick, providing warmth and laughter to inpatient clients, families and staff.

As with other similar programs, the idea is to always place the client’s needs and desires ahead of those of the artist’s. This helps to empower each client and allow them to make choices so they can be the leader of the play interaction.

The clowns also provide positive diversion techniques during certain procedures and assist during various therapy, education and Child Life sessions. The clowns are regarded as living ‘tools’ to be partnered with staff here at Holland Bloorview. 

Populations Served
Selected journal publications

Blain, S., Kingsnorth, S., Stephens, L., & McKeever, P. (2012). Determining the effects of therapeutic clowning on nurses in a children’s rehabilitation hospital. Arts & Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice, 4(1), 26-38; doi:10.1080/17533015.2011.561359

Kingsnorth, S., Blain, S., & McKeever, P. (2011). Physiological and emotional responses of disabled children to Therapeutic Clowns: A pilot studyEvidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine doi:10.1155/2010/neq008