By Emma Byrne
No matter what someone is going through, a laugh and a smile can go a long way.
Although most boys in Morning Star are medically well, some boys have physical and intellectual implications. This means they do not have the same opportunities as most people and potentially would have had more opportunities if they were born in Ireland. However, you cannot say these boys are not happy. The feeling of happiness that encompasses Morning Star is palpable and radiates from their front gate to their back walls.
I came to Morning Star in India with my Occupational Therapy hat on and was ready to get stuck in however it was essential that I connected with the boys first. I did this through the art of laughter. The feeling of someone making you laugh creates a trust and warmness to that person and that was how I began building a relationship with these boys. Once I figured out what made each boy laugh, they opened up and were more willing to interact with us, some were happy tolerating us. Language barriers too in this case were also overcome by copious smiles and laughter.
The World Health Organisation (WHO 2017) defines health as not just the absence of disease but a state of overall wellbeing. Still relatable today, the 1948 definition from WHO, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This definitely applies to Morning Star, as medical health is a priority but the boys overall wellbeing is also a huge aspect. Whilst interacting with these boys, it is very obvious that they are content. They have time to play outside, they get a lot of attention from the older boys who look after them, they have plentiful food and a safe place to sleep at night. Although there may not be the same resources here as they have at home, it does not debilitate the boy’s happiness and wellbeing.
Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cell and infection fighting antibodies which lead to improving resistance to disease. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel good chemicals. Endorphins promote overall sense of wellbeing which correlates with the definition from WHO. Laughter and a smile relates to a positive attitude which despite their limitations, these boys have.
I think an emphasis can be put on stereotypical ideas of health however in relation to happiness and overall wellbeing, Morning Star is doing an amazing job! Therefore, the proverb, “Laughter is the best medicine,” can refer to the fact that laughter has a beneficial impact on several aspects of health.