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Bedside clowns for children in hospital

Established in Switzerland in 1993 and launched in France in 2000, Théodora is a not-for-profit association devoted to training performing artists to work in hospital pediatric departments, bringing a smile to the faces of some 20,000 children hospitalized each year.

Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès - Théodora
© Didier Pallagès

Every week, Maxime receives a bedside visit at Paris's Hôpital Robert Debré from his very own "Doctor Dreams", one of twenty-two clowns working with the not-for-profit association Théodora. Following a three-week training programme in a hospital environment, the association's clowns encourage sick children to overcome their anxieties and smile again.

The rules are simple: listen to the children, and slowly but surely, help them regain their confidence. "There are hundreds of ways to communicate," says one Théodora clown. "You can pretend to be shy, talk to their Teddy Bear, blow bubbles or sing. One little boy was terrified by the doctors' white coats. I made him laugh with a pretend sword, so he could be a brave knight!"

Each clown is a trained professional working with Théodora, alongside their other external activities. Each is recruited for his or her artistic talent and personal qualities. Participating clowns meet regularly for group discussions, with a psychologist, to share and discuss their experiences.

The Fondation d’entreprise Hermès salutes Théodra's commitment to social responsibility and training for professional artists, and its work to promote the well-being of hospitalised children. "We aim to take them beyond the hospital walls," says Théodora's director Nathalie Marvaldi, "to give them space to dream and feel free."

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Annual support since 2008


President: André Poulie
Vice President: Jean-Léonard de Meuron
Director: Nathalie Marvaldi