GENESEE COUNTY — People tend to expect comedy routines, silly stunts, juggling-proverbial fun and games from clowns.
But the Mott Campus Clowns, a troupe made up of Mott Community College’s honors students, aren’t just clowning around. They are serious about a persistent issue plaguing youth — 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 nine MCC honor students enrolled in the service learning course he teaches, entitled Social Diversity and Civic Engagement (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, 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 Mott Campus Clowns made their debut in October, 2011, spreading goodwill throughout Flint and surrounding communities, with appearances at the Special Olympics, elementary schools, rescue missions, nursing homes, parades, and at numerous programs and events – activities encouraged by MCC’s service learning component.
Service learning, defined as a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with both instruction and reflection, focuses on critical thinking as well as personal and civic responsibility. MCC is among nearly 60 percent of community colleges in the nation offering service learning in curricular programs.
The Mott Campus Clowns have traveled to Detroit, Lansing, and Philadelphia. . In March 2012, the group chose service instead of taking a typical Spring Break trip by completing a weeklong Alternative Spring Break in the City of Brotherly Love. The troupe made appearances at various locations — schools, churches, nursing homes, social service agencies and community events, participating in the 242nd annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Philadelphia. The group will return to Philadelphia again March 8-17 to appear in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 10. While in Philadelphia, the students will also perform anti-bully assemblies at schools throughout the city and host a fundraiser at Old First Reformed Church, which is housing the clown troupe.