Old Firsts hosts Mott Campus Clowns

For the past three years the Mott Campus Clowns from Flint, Michigan have used Old First as their host for Alternative Spring Break. Each March a fresh group of clowns invades the CE Building for a week of performing a clown shop with a “No Bully” theme in local schools and childcare centers. The week ends with the MCC Clowns walking in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. The Philadelphia community has been very receptive in allowing the clowns to interact with the kids and spread a great message about being kind to others.

Call it clowning for a cause.

People tend to expect comedy routines, silly stunts, juggling – the typical fun and games from clowns. But the Mott Campus Clowns, Mott Community College’s honors student clown troupe, aren’t just clowning around. They are serious about a persistent issue plaguing youth, and that issue is bullying.

In October 2012, the group launched a new anti-bullying project to help Flint elementary schools deal with bullying. An estimated 13 million students, about a third of all those attending school, are bullied every year, according to the School Bullying Council, a school bullying resource for administrators, parents, students and teachers.

Dr. Brian Ivory, Honors Program Coordinator at Mott Community College, oversees the Mott Campus Clowns, a troupe comprised of eight MCC honor students enrolled in the service learning course he teaches, entitled Social Diversity and Civic Engagement Lab (HONS 251). Concerned about the incidence of bullying, Ivory recognized a need to deal with this pervasive problem early on in schools. The Mott Campus Clowns anti-bullying program includes a mix of anti-bully songs, comedy skits, comedy magic and a student pledge to not bully others.

“In our classroom, students learn about a variety of social diversity issues, including bias, prejudice and discrimination,” Ivory said. “Students learn such negative behaviors begin to appear early on in children, often in the act of bullying peers who are smaller, weaker or just different. The anti-bully work of the clown troupe not only fits into the course, helps students apply what they have learned in the classroom to address an issue that is a growing concern to students, teachers and parents alike.”

The clowns performed at four elementary schools, four boys and girls clubs, The Parent-Infant Center and the VA Medical Center this week. If you know a school or organization that might be interested in their program for Spring Break 2015, feel free to contact Dr. Ivory at (248) 302-9483.