My “Why” for Coming Out from Behind the Mask and the Ripple Effect Dance Movement!

My clowning career began in 1999 and I love to see people happy and laughing, so choosing to become a clown was perfect! 4 years ago, I decided to take a break after a difficult time of loss and to spend time with family and really did some soul searching.

During that time, I realized that another reason I became a clown was that it seemed easier to show up from behind the mask of my character Aunti Bobbi.

This is very interesting because I demanded a lot of myself to put on the makeup and prepare to drive to a performance looking like a clown. Driving was always an experience, often feeling uncomfortable and awkward until I arrive at the gig where I “fit in”.

I discovered that those feelings were familiar to me, in school, I was bullied and feeling that way became my normal. I tried everything possible to “fit in” as a “misfit”, that was my self-talk as a child and teenager that I somehow carried into my adult life.

There is a big difference between “fitting in” and “belonging” when we try to fit in, we change who we are in an attempt to be accepted. If we accept who we are and celebrate our uniqueness then we find where we belong. It feels empowering and allows for inclusion, creative growth and builds a stronger community.

I thought it would be as simple as taking off the “mask” and my journey to self-acceptance has been immense and I needed help along the way. I feel if the message can be spread of how important it is to stand together as a community to help give strength to those who need it and that reaching out for help and support is a sign of strength versus weakness, we can make a difference.

As an Inspirational Entertainer, it ignites the passion within me that we have the ability to encourage children, youth, teens, young adults and those who feel they are different, to understand that they belong.

The research that supports how important it is to have a community that encourages self-expression and acceptance is vast. We are inundated with information on how we should look and act, cyberbullying has become an epidemic with children and teens all over the world, and often the bully is a victim of low self-esteem.

Mental illness is increasingly threatening the lives of our children; with Canada’s youth suicide rate the third highest in the industrialized world. (Canadian Mental Health Association 2016 report)

The total number of 12-19-year-old youth in Canada alone at risk for developing depression is a staggering 3.2 million.

Although low self-esteem is not categorized as a mental health condition in itself, there are clear links between the way we feel about ourselves and our overall mental and emotional wellbeing.

There are many factors involved with inclusion, mental health and social justice that I wish there was a simple solution.

It is my dream that the Ripple Effect Song & Dance will help spread a message of how important it is that we come together to support and accept each other and ourselves for who we are just the way we are!

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