Program’s goal to raise spirits

Marc Bence/metro Edmonton


Nine-year-old Kris Rain blows bubbles yesterday with the help of street performer Doc Willikers the Laugh Doctor at the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

A handful of sick children at the Stollery Children’s Hospital got a chance just to be kids yesterday as they laughed and clapped during a visit from a group of street performers.

The performance is part of a 23-year tradition for the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival that brings jugglers, clowns and acrobats to the hospital to help lift the spirits of young patients.

Yesterday also marked the eighth year the festival has offered formal shows through its Comedy Cares program, which combines all of the acts into one show.

“This is a show that gives young people the chance to laugh when they need it the most,” said Shelley Switzer, artistic producer for the festival.

“The artists are so generous to come here to volunteer their time to just give them a laugh, because that is something that they really need.”

Three-year-old Juliette Rain laughed and clapped when a pair of Russian acrobats did handstands on each other, and during a brief break some children were able to interact one-on-one with performers.

Juliette was just diagnosed with a rare-kidney disorder on Friday at the hospital where she will be staying for the next three months and the stress has been tough on her family, says her mother Stacey Rain.

“This is a really good break for us,” said Rain. “I am very thankful for the performers because it was very fun — and I know just by looking at Juliette, she had a great time.”

“Laughter really does have a healing power,” said Jan Streader who was dressed up as a clown character called Mrs. Collywobbles.

“It’s gratifying to hear people respond with everything from giggles to belly laughs.”

The Edmonton International Street Performers Festival runs through Sunday.

Most Popular From ...