Théodora, an extraordinary mother
Founded in Switzerland in 1993 by André and Jan Poulie, THEODORA Children’s Charity contributes to the well-being of hospitalized and autistic children in medical educational institutes by offering them visits of professional clown artists: Giggle Doctors who are especially trained to intervene in a medical environment.
Today, the Children’s Charity continues to grow and is present in eight countries; Switzerland, England, Belarus, China, Spain, Italy and Turkey. THEODORA saw the light of day in France in 2000.
This Charity was founded in memory of Théodora Poulie, the founders’ mother, André and Jan Poulie. During their childhood, one of them experienced a serious accident, forcing him to stay at the hospital for several months, away from his family. His mother came to visit him every day, in order to bring him the comfort and happiness he needed by telling him funny stories and adventures that would help him escape from to a world with more colors from his hospital bed. When Théodora passed away, the two brothers decided to build a charity in order to procure to the future generations of hospitalized children the feeling of joy that André could have at the hospital, every day, when his mother visited him. Then a new concept was born to give life to this mission: Giggle doctors.
In January 2001, the first training session for Giggle doctors started in France, for them to work in hospital environment and bring happiness to hospitalized children. At the end of this training, which is nowadays lead by professionals from the medical world, ten professional artists officially became ‘giggle doctors’ for THEODORA, Children’s Charity, a profession requiring true and specific knowledge on children reactions, as well as their families’ towards the disease, the pain and the hospitalization.
With each child, Giggle doctors improvise and try to help the child escape the universe of his/her disease for a moment, and to find some carelessness again through an imaginary world.
The artist adapts to the child’s family environment and to the family and eventually suggests their participation. At the heart of the exchange, the child becomes an actor.
In addition to visiting each child in pediatric services, Giggle doctors are also present in the surgical unit where they accompany the children along with stretcher bearers, from their room to the surgical unit and they go to meet them in the recovery room. Their company on the way from the room to the ‘Surgical unit’ planet enables to reduce the emotional tension for both the child and the family before the surgical intervention, to improve the transition between the room and the surgical unit, to reduce the child’s vulnerability with a direct and personalized support, and to contribute generally speaking, as always, to the child’s well-being by improving their hospitalization conditions.
Since THEODORA Children’s Charity was founded, Giggle doctors, such as Doctor Oups or Doctor Ye$, have given more than 200,000 prescriptions for good mood.
Mr & Mrs. Giggle
In November 2009, THEODORA Children’s Charity developed in France and opened its first “Mr and Mrs. Giggle” program in a medical educational institute in Paris. Its new mission? Enabling autistic children staying in specialized institutions to access laugh, amusement and the unexpected. In these institutes, you don’t mention doctors and you forget about the hospitals’ white coats; an autistic child is not a sick child, he/she lives and grows up with his/her handicap.
Each Mr and Mrs. Giggle is a Giggle doctor who took a special training course in order to intervene to children who have a handicap, to be able to adapt to each child, according to their age, state and state of mind. These Mr and Mrs. Giggle are funny and kind characters, clowns and storytellers, who are dressed with one thousand colors. During their visit, they invite children to dream, to have fun, to laugh and to exchange; to play with colors, the sounds and the sense of touch in order to awake all the child’s senses.
That is how THEODORA Children’s Charity intervenes in France in 22 pediatric services and 5 specialized institutions. Every year, and thanks to your support, more than 18,000 children are visited by a Giggle doctor or Mr/Mrs. Giggle.
You can contribute to the well-being and smiles of hospitalized and autistic children who are staying at medical and educational institutes too, by making a donation here, or directly on the website uk.theodora.org/en-gb THANK YOU!