At present, the Burgholz Children and Youth Hospice in Wuppertal is one of five inpatient children's hospices in North-Rhine Westphalia. Immediately after diagnosis, families with children suffering from illnesses that shorten their life expectancy get the opportunity to regularly spend time at the children's hospice and receive support from the hospice team. Their stays currently involve a visit from the clinic clowns.
Once a month, the two clinic clowns − "Mr. von Knölle" and "Kristalina" − pop along to make the visits as enjoyable as possible for all the attendees. In doing so, the clowns place great emphasis on interacting with the children, who have to contend with increasingly serious mental and physical impairments at their illness progresses. By performing songs, pantomime, magic and acrobatics, the clowns adapt to the individual needs of the children and create some special moments for the between one and ten ill children and their families staying at the hospice.
"The clinic clowns are an absolute asset for our work and of course, in particular, for the children we're looking after. They approach the children as the situation requires and show great empathy, in doing so creating a relaxed and joyful atmosphere during their visits," said Kerstin Wülfing, Director of the Burgholz Children and Youth Hospice.
With the audience sometimes very restricted by the health, it is necessary for the clinic clowns to act in an especially sensitive manner and to observe the reactions of the spectators precisely. Many of them are losing abilities that they have previously had and that healthy people take for granted, meaning their communication capabilities are impaired. For this reason, every one of the visiting clinic clowns must first prove themselves suitable for such visits and receive special training. In addition, further training measures are compulsory.
"For us, it is wonderful to see what a positive impact the clinic clowns have on the ill children and, of course, on their siblings and their parents too. We're absolutely delighted to be able to effectively support the important work carried out by the hospice staff by funding the clowns," said Thomas Klein of the BVB foundation. The visits by the clowns to the Burgholz Children and Youth Hospice in Wuppertal have been financed by "leuchte auf" for one year.
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