HOW BUNKY GOT HIS NAME!
When Karen Ridd first began to mentor me in the art of therapeutic clowning at SickKids, I was very worried I might not find the ‘right’ name for my newborn therapeutic clown. Through several visualization exercises and journaling it came to me – Bunky was just the right name for my new friend.
The ‘bunky’ was the little cabin or ‘play space’ in the woods where my brothers, sister and cousins and I could go for our play at the end of the school year. Out of the city and up to the lake house was where my family would go; where freedom of play, adventure and the imagination was encouraged. I was permitted by my parents to head outside, where we youngsters banned the adults, and where just the kids could create and imagine other worlds and imaginary friends or nurture friendships with our summer neighbours until school began again. So, BUNKY was born in 1993 and the children at SickKids were offered many choices through their clown friend – even betting on whether Bunky was a boy or a girl!
Yes, Bunky is a ‘real’ character/persona to his friends in hospital. While perhaps a little slow in his understanding of the world of hospital where he lives, he exudes compassion and caring, while at the same time loves being cared for by his patient friends. He loves colour, walks with a light swagger and is open to all the possibilities of mischief and imaginary play. Bunky has difficulty tying his shoelaces, often misplaces his toys, forgets where he is, or is supposed to be, and sometimes goes in and out of the wrong door when leaving a room, but his young friends find the solution to all these problems.
Bunky is non-verbal right up to the SARS epidemic when he was able to have his/her voice slowly brought back through an operation at SickKids. With light gibberish, sighs and deep breath, tapping feet and body language communicating with his friends and staff was natural and understood by all. Bunky has nurtured friendships through inclusive play throughout his life.
Bunky loves the colour yellow, walks with a light swagger and is open to all the possibilities of play at SickKids. Bunky has difficulty tying his shoelaces, often misplaces his toys, forgets where he is and sometimes goes in and out of the wrong door when leaving a room. While perhaps a little slow in his understanding of the world in which he lives, he truly loves to care and be cared for by his patient friends. Bunky is non-verbal using sometimes a little gibberish, sighs and breath, tapping feet and using body language as his way of communicating. Bunky has nurtured long-term relationships with patients, their families and staff for 18 years through his inclusive play, helping to empower his/her friends who are living with tremendous stress and anxiety.