Clown brings laughter into lives
Lonely and bored people tucked away in resthomes are getting something new to smile about – Whenuapai’s Karenza Fullerton.
She appears for their entertainment as the colourful and vibrant Mrs Smith, a mute clown with a character to boot.
Karenza buddies up and bosses around Lucy Bennett, a drama teacher at Long Bay College, who acts as the expressive and mischievous Trevor.
Karenza is setting up a group called Joy for Oldies to entertain with clowning, music, dance and audience participation.
Props range from puppets, red noses and rubber gloves to dusters and a whistle.
Karenza began visiting an old friend in a resthome three years ago and realised many elderly people had few visitors and little variety in their lives.
The self-employed mum says: “They feel lonely and bored, a sad way to complete the rich lives they have lived.
“Perhaps they’re seen by some as past their best, put out to graze or not useful any more.”
Karenza, who has a background in self-development and Youthline counselling, is happy to bring “good medicine” to residents who are generally divorced from the wider world.
“If no action is taken we may end up in this same situation, in a resthome, bored and feeling unappreciated and shut off from life. Many of the now elderly may die feeling lonely and unappreciated.
“There are many lonely hearts in care who would want some warm attention from the wider community.”
Karenza acknowledges the great work resthomes already do, but recognises their time is taken up with the daily care of their residents.
Radius Taupaki Gables activities coordinator Evi Schuck says a small group of their residents were overwhelmed by the entertainment from Joy for Oldies.
It was even more special when they were invited to a private home in Waimauku where they were treated to a performance and afternoon tea.
“They just love going to different people’s places. Although we take them for drives every week, that’s what they’re missing,” says Mrs Schuck.
So far the Joy for Oldies group has a team of seven, including cup-of-tea makers. If you would like to be part of this project in bringing aliveness, comfort and warmth to older people in the community, contact Karenza on 416-8838 or 021-128-4556 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good medicine: Laughter just flows for these Radius Taupaki Gables residents, from left: Lilian Childs, Lorna Barker and Jill Fitzgerald.
Dust up: A prop like this duster keeps the antics going for Karenza Fullerton who acts as Mrs Smith.