The training team

Helen Donnelly (Founder, senior therapeutic clown practitioner, Artistic Director, Program Co-ordinator) is an award-winning clown teacher and performer. She has worked as a professional Therapeutic Clown since 2004. Her career in this field has included SickKids, Long Term Care facilities across the GTA serving elders with dementia, and for the last 12 years as been a Therapeutic Clown practitioner at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital as 'Dr Flap'.

Her career outside healthcare has included touring with Circus Orange and Cirque du Soleil as a clown.  She has presented and offered training at healthcare conferences both nationally and internationally since 2007.

Her passions include creating new opportunities for clown artists and nurturing existing Therapeutic Clowning practices to help clown artists attain best practice standards for themselves and their programs. She is thrilled to have created  and led North America’s first Certificate Program for Therapeutic Clowning. She is ever grateful to George Brown College (Continuing Education), and to the Veterans Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and to Safehaven for hosting the student placements at their respective sites.

Phil Koole (senior therapeutic clown practitioner, co-artistic instructor) is an experienced theatrical and therapeutic clown, specializing in serving elders with dementia. For the last 6 years, he has served as his clown persona ‘Yope’ through Kathleen Le Roux’s professional Therapeutic Clown practice here in Toronto at various Long Term Care facilities and at West Park Healthcare Centre. He has recently joined the Therapeutic Clown team at Holland Bloorview.

Since 2010 Phil has delighted audiences both locally and abroad through his stage and street shows as a theatrical clown.

He is excited to join this new initiative and to offer his expertise to this team.


Kathleen O’Connell (Reflective Practice Leader) is a certified yoga teacher, meditation instructor, social worker and therapist. Her thirty year passion for yoga and mindfulness meditation practices includes the study of Hatha, Ashtanga, Restorative, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga, Yoga for Seniors and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). She leads the team regularly in mindfulness and reflection exercises and is often called the ‘Emotional Healer’ for the clown artists. She has been working alongside Helen and her team at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital since 2011 as Reflective Practice Leader.

This team is fortunate to know so many award-winning and international trainers in areas of dance, mime, music and self-care.

These clown artists will receive the very best in Continued Professional Development. 

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