Nonprofit Healthy Humor, over the past forty years, has been creating joy for hospitalized children and people in need. For example, it’s Red Nose Docs program, where Healthy Humor sends professional performers into children’s hospitals, has helped over 160,000 New Yorkers at five different hospitals, including the Harlem Hospital Center, annually.
But it’s not limited to New York; the Red Nose Docs program operates in fifteen hospitals nationwide, including in Florida and Pennsylvania.
Recently, Healthy Humor has expanded its work to the streets of central Harlem with its pilot program called Community Connections. This program seespolice 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.
Both students and police officers have been learning and engaging with one another over the past eight weeks, thanks to Community Connections. On May 16, 2023, a neighborhood celebration took place at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Community Center in Harlem to celebrate the end of the eight-week program. Healthy Humor’s pilot program was funded by the Altman Foundation.
Healthy Humor’s CEO, Dina Paul-Parks, 32nd Precinct Commanding Officer Amir Yakatally, and the students of Democracy Prep Charter Middle School joined together for a pizza party to reflect and celebrate their shared experiences of the program.
From the beginning, Healthy Humor’s goal has been to turn moments of trauma into moments of joy, wonder, and resilience.
“[Our performers] understand that their primary purpose in this role is to serve those who are hurting, not to “perform,” Healthy Humor’s Co-Founder and CEO Dina Paul-Parks explained. She mentioned how “It’s incredibly powerful work, and I can’t wait for more people to learn about how life-changing it can be.”
Founded in NYC nearly forty years ago, Healthy Humor’s reach has grown nationwide.
“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,” mentioned 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.”
With the success of the Community Connections program, it is now clear that the work of Healthy Humor is not limited to hospitals but has grown to serve communities, also. The program highlights the importance of police officers becoming a part of the fabric of the neighborhoods they operate in.
For more information about this event and Healthy Humor, please visit here.