Clown brings laugh­ter into lives

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Rani Ti­moti

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


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.

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