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February 28, 2024
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Nonprofit Healthy Humor Threw A Neighborhood Celebration in NYC’s Harlem, Marking The End of Its Community Connections Pilot Program

Nonprofit Healthy Humor Threw A Neighborhood Celebration in NYC’s Harlem, Marking The End of Its Community Connections Pilot Program
Sourced Photo (Images internally provided)

Since its founding in NYC, for the past 40 years, Healthy Humor has brought joy to hospitalized children and people in need. It’s Red Nose Docs program, which sees Healthy Humor sending in professional performers, such as clowns, into children’s hospitals across the country. 

Healthy Humor’s Red Nose Docs program has helped over 160,000 New Yorkers across five different hospitals, including the Harlem Hospital Center. 

The program now operates in fifteen hospitals across the US, including in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Florida.  

Just recently, Healthy Humor expanded its work to the streets of central Harlem with its pilot program called Community Connections. The program sees police officers of the 32nd precinct and students from Democracy Prep Charter Middle School take part in numerous interactive activities and focused reflection. The aim of the program is to understand and embrace each other’s differences while attempting to bridge the gap between the police and communities of color.  

Both police officers and students had been learning and engaging with one another for eight weeks prior to the final celebration, all thanks to Community Connections. On May 16, 2023, a neighborhood celebration was thrown at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Community Center in Harlem. The neighborhood celebration was to mark the end fo the eight-week Community Connections program. The pilot program was funded by the Altman Foundation, which supports programs that advance opportunity and equity for individuals, families, and communities 

Dina Paul-Parks, CEO of Healthy Humor and 32nd Precinct Commanding Officer Amir Yakatally, and the students of Democracy Prep Charter Middle School all joined for a pizza party to celebrate and look back on their shared experiences of the Community Connections program.  

Healthy Humor’s mission for the past forty years has been to turn moments of trauma into moments of joy, wonder, and resilience.  

“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,” Paul-Parks explained. “Our job is to enter the spaces -all of the spaces- where harm occurs and to help bring about empathy, connection, and healing.” 

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

Following the success of the Community Connections program, it is evident that Healthy Humor’s amazing work is not limited to hospitals but has expanded its reach to serve communities, also. The Community Connections program highlights the importance of police officers becoming a part of the fabric of the neighborhoods they serve.  

To check out Healthy Humor and its upcoming events, please visit here. 

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