Mott Campus Clowns to Take Their Act on the Road to Philadelphia
Call it clowning for a cause. When the Mott Community College students who make up the Mott Campus Clowns put on their painted, funny faces, don colorful, silly clothes or slip on those huge, over-sized shoes, they have more than just entertaining in mind. These class clowns have a definite sense of purpose.
The clown troupe is the brainchild of Dr. Brian Ivory, Professor and Honors Program Coordinator at Mott Community College. The group is comprised of honor students enrolled in Dr. Ivory's capstone course, entitled Social Diversity and Civic Engagement (HONS 251). As a course requirement, students enrolled in HONS 251 must develop traditional clown skills, including puppetry, pocket magic, juggling, balloon animals and face painting. The students are also required to complete service hours during weekend or weeklong trips away from campus, all part of MCC's service learning component.
The student clowns made their debut last fall semester and left a lasting impression, spreading cheer during weekend activities in the Flint, Detroit and Lansing areas. This winter semester the Mott Campus Clowns are choosing service instead of taking a typical Spring Break trip by completing a weeklong Alternative Spring Break (March 10-18) in Philadelphia, Penn. The troupe will be making goodwill appearances at various locations, including schools, churches, nursing homes, social service agencies and community events. They will also appear in the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade on Sunday, March 11, 2012. While in Philadelphia, the group will stay at the Urban Youth Camps with the Old First Reformed Church at 151 North 4th Street.
According to Break Away: The Alternative Break Connection, a non-profit organization that promotes alternative break programs that inspire college students toward lifelong active service, the Mott Campus Clowns will be the first group of college students in the U.S. to complete a curriculum-based Alternative Break involving service learning through clowning. All seven students performing as Mott Campus Clowns will also receive six weeks of clown training prior to departing for the City of Brotherly Love.
"Instead of travelling to Florida or Cancun, these students - enrolled in the first college course in America teaching students to serve as clowns in an Alternative Spring Break format - will spend their spring break serving a community," Dr. Ivory said.
On March 2, the Mott Campus Clowns will hold a "dress rehearsal" which will include goodwill appearances at the following locations:
1:15 pm Pierce Elementary School, 1101 W. Vernon Drive, Flint, (810) 760-1386
2:45 pm Sterling House Assisted Living, 432 East Clark St., Davison, (810) 658-7100
4:30 pm Heartland Nursing Home, 3011 North Center Road, Flint, (810) 736-0600
7:00 pm Shelter of Flint, 1917 Delaware Ave., Flint (810) 239-5433
All appearances by the clown troupe are supervised by Dr. Ivory, (aka Bubby the Clown), a 1987 graduate of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. In 2011 he "un-retired" from clowning to train the Mott Campus Clowns. Dr. Ivory knows that clowning is not just about entertainment: the silly antics, weird clothes, wild hair, and big smiles are all designed to warm the hearts of all who comes in contact with the clown troupe. The group's motto this year is "Our hearts are bigger than our shoes."
Sponsorship of the Mott Campus Clowns is provided by Mott Community College and the Michigan Campus Compact, a Lansing-based coalition of higher education presidents committed to community service and service learning. Service learning -- defined as a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection--focuses on critical thinking as well as civic responsibility. Service learning programs typically involve students in activities that address local needs while enhancing their academic skills and commitment to serving the community
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