When I got my monthly invitation to join the EAMF team to entertain siblings of kids in hospital the theme was CARNIVAL!!!
In the past, we’ve put on mini plays, done hip hop…but I did look at this and thought
Carnival? How the heck do we put on a carnival?..’
The flyer said there would be jugglers, and Hula Hoop, facepainting…’how are they going to pull this off?’
I arrived and took my place at the front desk, where parents register their children, and we get the kids to write their own name tags. Volunteers started to arrive, sourced from all over LA including many actors who’ve heard about this from their acting teachers.
I found out about EAMF.ORG through Risa Bramon Garcia’s school BGB Studio where I was taking masterclasses. As part of our acting training, Risa encourages us to take care of our physical health, our mental health, with meditation and mindfulness, and volunteering. It’s a vital part of what I do as an actor…when you have over 400 rejections under your belt, it’s important to have something to do that’s feel good, where you get a chance to ‘give back’.
With the last child registered and into the room for an hour without their parents, I went in to see what was happening.
Danny, a fellow volunteer, his first time….told me he nearly cried when he first saw it…here are these precious kids, having their face painted by a professional, transforming their little faces with butterflies, turning them into astronauts, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and everything you could possibly think of. A group of volunteers was in hysterics showing the kids how to Hula-Hoop…another group of kids and their new volunteer friends, was standing enraptured by Shana, a woman who has been making balloon animals for 12 years and was creating jet packs for little astronauts, headbands with tigers for little girls…a unicorn….and a phoenix…Nothing the kids wanted was too much trouble for this wizard, speedy and incredibly dextrous.
In a corner, John the Juggler, another actor with a hidden talent, had brought his own sand bags, scarves, tennis balls and juggling batons, to teach them how to juggle…after an hour, they had mastered it…particularly Juan who was amazing, and amazed!
Snacks of cookies and what in Australia I call Fairy Floss, but you here call Cotton Candy, were being munched on by the 20 odd happy kids.
When I register them, they are nervous, holding all the energy you can imagine of having a loved brother or sister ‘upstairs’ in the hospital. We don’t talk about any of that. But we know it’s on their minds, because we see it on their faces. We see it on the faces of their resilient parents who leave them in our care for an hour.
But when they leave….wearing funny hats, headbands of balloon animals, their faces festooned with great art..it’s a transformation.
Bye John, bye Danny, Bye Angelica, Bye Ella…..bye, bye, bye’……waving to their new friend the volunteers.
It’s a pretty special hour. Now, to prepare for tomorrow’s audition. My mindset uplifted as much as theirs is. Next month it’s magic, and I reckon they’ll pull a rabbit out of a hat..again!