Joan's love of and commitment to therapeutic clowning was kindled in the mid-1980's following a dream of a clown. Through her mentoring with Karen Ridd, the first therapeutic clown in Canada, Joan successfully launched Ontario's first therapeutic clown program in 1993 at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto. In 1999, Joan co-founded and directed Therapeutic Clowns Canada Foundation (TCC), a driving force behind the seeding, training, and launching therapeutic clown programs in major pediatric hospitals across Canada. As requests came to her through relationships formed over the years, Joan felt it was important to share her expertise with professionals in various disciplines outside Canada.
Therapeutic Clowns International (TCI) was established to facilitate the momentum and requests for therapeutic clowning globally. As a founding member of the Canadian Association of Therapeutic Clowns (CATC), Joan continues to mentor therapeutic clowns, train others in the art of hospital-specific therapeutic clowning and consult with professionals in establishing therapeutic clown programs in major healthcare facilities internationally. Joan, aka Bunky, has visited children's hospitals in Cuba, orphanages, hospitals and crisis centres in El Salvador, and travelled into the mountains of Colombia with both hospital clown friends and Clowns Without Borders.
Adrienne has a long connection with Cuba, dating back to 1972 when she went to Havana as part of a team of volunteer English language specialists sent by the Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO). Their job was to set up an English program for Cuban engineers who were beginning a master's program with Canadian engineers. The initial four-month project extended into a ten-year experience of teaching, preparing original teaching materials, textbook writing and training Cuban counterparts to carry on the program themselves.
In the 1980's, after completing a Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, Adrienne established a link between the Dept. of Applied Linguistics in Edinburgh and the Ministry of Public Health in Cuba in the area of English for Medicine. She developed and taught in a master's program for Cuban English teachers working in this field.
In the 1990's, while continuing to collaborate with the Ministry of Public Health, Adrienne became Principal of the International School of Havana. This is the only English-medium school in Cuba and provides education from K to 12 for the children of foreign diplomats and businessmen. Upon her retirement from the school in 1999, she continued to work with the Cuban Ministry of Public Health as an advisor to their English programs and as an initiator and coordinator of collaborative events with Canadian health care professionals.
Adrienne's unexpected and fortuitous meeting in the summer of 2008 with Joan Barrington led to the 'Clowns 4 Cuba Project' - workshops and the introduction and establishment of therapeutic clown programs in children's hospitals in Havana.
Bonnie got into the travel business in 1990 while still teaching for the Toronto Board of Education. It was through Joan's son, that Bonnie began booking trips to Cuba for the 'Clowns 4 Cuba Project', Joan Barrington aka Bunky.
It was during one of Joan's investigative trips to Cuba in 2006 that Bonnie asked if she would please deliver 10 pairs of ballet shoes to the Ballet School in Havana; therein began a supportive and caring friendship. Consequently, Bonnie's role as Clown Angel and Ambassador of Therapeutic Clowns International (TCI) has evolved and grown over the years.
Bonnie assists in the travel plans for Therapeutic Clowns International (TCI) and accompanies Joan on her working trips, helping to document and photograph TCI workshops, speaking engagements and hospital visits. Bonnie believes deeply in the role of humour and laughter in the healing process and she is a partner with Joan in advocating for sick and critically ill children around the world.
Lucy Ibarra Burgos is a clinical psychologist. She graduated from the Universidad del Valle de Mexico in Hermosillo, Sonora. Lucy has over 10 years of experience, specializing in mental health, rehabilitation and education. Her practice is with children, adolescents and parents. She has always had an interest in research within the arts, humor and play as applied to the health care setting. Within her career in psychology, this passion for the arts led her to teach and perform internationally in theatre, dance and clowning.
Lucy was introduced to therapeutic clowning and Joan Barrington in 2011 at a workshop for the Cuban children’s theatre La Colmenita. After many follow up conversations, Lucy assumed the role of TCI Coordinator for Clowns4Mexico where she has collaborated with Joan to create and implemented therapeutic clown training workshops for Psychologists, Occupational Therapists and professional clowns in Cuba and Mexico. Over the last year, Lucy has been successful in accessing funding for programs which now work with seniors and people with disabilities.
Michael Mackenzie joined TCI as a resource consultant in 2013.
Michael develops and implements programs at Montage Support Services around Employment and Volunteer initiatives for adults with developmental disabilities. He has been connected to L'Arche since 1989. L'Arche was founded by acclaimed Canadian and 2015 Templeton Award recipient, Jean Vanier, whose mission and vision is a recognized model of inclusion and belonging of all people.
Michael has been very influential in widening the range of opportunities in the business and volunteer sector for people with developmental disabilities who want to exercise their right to community engagement and to work.
He was drawn to the Therapeutic Clowns International primarily because of their mission to bring laughter and play to vulnerable children. Following the 2013 Therapeutic Clown symposium at Holland Bloorview in Toronto, he offered to assist TCI with a Mission and Identity process.
His involvement with TCI has included social media, web page content, marketing, writing and other behind the scenes activities.