Wellness program helps audience celebrate youth, overcome fear and laugh

By Olivia Willoughby

Sherry Lebed Davis filled the audience with chuckles, fruit-scented bubbles and smiles during her Humor Creates Wellness program at Kishwaukee Hospital, 1 Kish Hospital Drive, Tuesday night.

Davis created the Humor Creates Wellness program in 1980 and has been featured in several magazines and newspapers, including Time Magazine and The New York Times.

The program focused on helping the audience de-stress and get rid of negativity, all through humor.

“[I want my audience] to learn that humor is an important part of quality of life,” Davis said. “There’s humor in everything. They just don’t know that anybody can move and do something to create wellness.”

Davis started by telling a few life stories about growing up with music and dance and being inspired by her mother, who developed breast cancer in 1980.

“We created this program for her,” Davis said. “My mom taught me that you can learn something by doing everything. If there’s something you don’t like to do, do it.”

Davis, also a breast cancer survivor, found inspiration when she dealt with the complications of the disease. The Disney character, Tinkerbell, was her idol while she struggled with breast cancer. Davis said she called her brother and told him her light was going out and she was feeling her life slip away.

“My brother told me to go to the emergency room and tell them my light was going out like Tinkerbell,” Davis said. “We laughed about it. Humor made me understand that I wasn’t going to die.”

Connie Rader, an audience member whose sister-in-law also developed breast cancer, said she believes laughter helps cure illnesses.

“She needs a lot of positive things in her life right now,” Rader said. “Even though she seems very positive, I think that passing on [the program’s message] would be very helpful.”

Davis’ goal was to send her audience home with at least one message.

“I want to make everyone laugh and move,” Davis said. “I give three or four messages and if they take home one, then I’ve done my job.”

One message she gave the audience was to remember the child in them and celebrate that youth.

“I want them to make an effort for that child to come out every day,” Davis said.

Davis also taught her audience a method for using the word “fear” in order to succeed.

“In the word ‘fear,’ without the ‘e’ you will go far,” Davis said. “You make your life what it is. When you feel fear, take out the ‘e.'”

The program did not just have the audience laughing at jokes about Davis’ past. Since Davis calls it an “international therapeutic dance movement program,” she also got them moving and dancing, while seated, to line dance music and even blowing bubbles to “open up your lymphatic system,” Davis said. Other methods Davis incorporated into her program included repeating things three times, such as negative thoughts or people one wanted to get away from, tossing balls to each other and simply smiling.

As she wrapped up, Davis wanted everyone to remember each person is in charge of his or her own life and he or she will make his or her day what it is. Davis said she was happy to see the smiles on her audience member

“[The audience] was hesitant in the beginning, a little reluctant to let go,” Davis said. “But when you bring that joy and laughter, it’s like a dam that breaks. I’d like to think everyone went home with a message. When I can give someone a gift, it always make me happy.”

Bill Iser, another audience member, said everyone should be able to experience something like Davis’ program.

“I think every person, whatever their age is, should attend a program like this as soon as possible,” Iser said. “We get stressed every day due to the negativity in the economy. You don’t think of the common sense approach of not being serious about every topic all day long.”