May is Smile Month so The Humour Foundation can continue to deliver laughter to sick kids

Patients and families meet the Clown Doctors from The Humour Foundation.

CommBank is celebrating 25 years of smiles as a foundation partner of the Clown Doctors, a national program providing millions of ‘doses’ of fun and laughter to 21 hospitals and one children’s palliative care facility.

As a founding partner, CommBank has been a proud supporter of the Clown Doctors since 1999.

The Clown Doctors is The Humour Foundation’s flagship program. It brings the many benefits of laughter to hospital wards across the country, aiming to brighten the days of sick children, their carers, and hospital staff.

The expertly trained and highly skilled Clown Doctors work in partnership with medical and healthcare professionals to alleviate stress and social isolation, improving outcomes in what is often a stressful and unfamiliar environment.

To launch Smile Month this May – the Bank’s key Clown Doctors fundraising initiative, CommBank invited one of Australia’s best comedians and children’s entertainers, Jimmy Rees, to be a Clown Doctor for the day, visiting young patients and their families at the Monash Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Rees was honoured with a Red Nose Induction Ceremony. 

Rees, who became a household name on the children’s television program Giggle and Hoot, knows firsthand how important the Clown Doctors’ work is after his nephew received care from them during a hospital stay.

“The Clown Doctors are incredible people. In hospitals, patients and their families are going through some of the hardest experiences they’ve ever had to go through, and they need a bit of respite,” Rees said.

“My nephew Rye was in hospital for many years, and I know first-hand how important laughter is to get people through tough times. I also really noticed while I was a children’s entertainer that if kids are laughing, everyone’s laughing.

“It was an absolute honour to join the ranks of the Clown Doctors for the day and see first-hand the joy they bring to families, and I hope their work can continue for years to come.”

Nathan Barker, Head of Community Investment at CommBank, said the 25-year milestone is a proud one for the Bank: “Clown Doctors have been a key part of CommBank’s community investment program for a quarter of a century, and it is a partnership that we are incredibly proud of and very passionate about.

“Every year, the Clown Doctors make more than 230,000 visits to sick kids, their carers and staff in hospitals. The impact they have made on so many lives over the past 25 years is immeasurable, bringing laughter to children and families when they need it most. CommBank is proud to again launch Smile Month, raising much needed funds for this important initiative.”

Smile Month will run from 29 April to 24 May, raising money from CommBank employees, customers, and the wider community through various events and initiatives. CommBank will accept in-branch donations during Smile Month, and the CommBank Staff Foundation will match all funds raised up to $100,000, meaning generous donations will go even further. 

Emma Pollard, CEO of The Humour Foundation, praised the Bank’s 25-year-strong commitment to the community through the Clown Doctors. 

“CommBank’s support has been critical to the growth and impact of the Clown Doctors program. Over the 25 years of our partnership, they have supported more than 8,000 Clown Doctor Rounds in hospitals around Australia, putting smiles on the faces of over 950,000 children, carers, and staff in hospitals around Australia.

“As a founding partner, CommBank enables us to bring laughter where it is unexpected yet most needed. From 2 hospitals and 15,000 smiles when our partnership started in 1999 to 21 hospitals, 1 hospice, and more than 230,000 smiles around Australia each year, their contribution to the community through the Clown Doctors program has been immense.

“We look forward to our partnership celebrating 1 million smiles later this year!”

This year’s Smile Month will help support the 65 clown doctors across Australia who bring hope and joy to sick children, their carers, and hospital staff.

Donations to the Clown Doctors can be made at any Commonwealth Bank branch from now up until 24 May or online at commbank.com.au/clowndoctors.

The Advocate

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