The Flying Seagulls’ work reflects powerful current evidence from social science, neuroscience and biochemistry of the importance of laughter, collective physical play and trusting relationships for building social bonds, resolving conflict, creating cohesive communities, developing resilience and securing personal and social wellbeing.
Professor Deborah Youdell in a 2015 study on the impact of the Flying Seagull Project’s approach for the Public Service Academy at Birmingham University.
Develops motor skills and improves fitness (Lindon 2007), improves function of blood vessels (Science Daily, 2011), increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T cells for a stronger immune system (Scott, 2011).
Improves IQ (Elkind 2007), develops vocabulary, ability to solve problems, self-confidence and motivation, and an awareness of the needs of others (Zigler 2009). Lack of play in childhood linked to reduced brain size and activity (Tobin 1997).
Reduces stress, increases levels of endorphins (Scott, 2011), improves ability to cope with and recover from trauma (Lester and Russell 2008), reduces aggressive behaviour (Bird 2007).
Helps children relate to each other and feel part of their community (Casey 2010). Develops empathetic skills and cooperating, helping, sharing, and solving problems (Open University 2011). Helps overcome cultural differences and break down social isolation for disabled or disadvantaged children (Dunn et al. 2004).
Improves children's ability to develop strong, trusting relationships with other children and adults, strengthens general community ties (Worpole and Knox 2007), and improves adult perception of community strength and safety (Prezza and Pacilli 2007).
Reduces likelihood of developing violent or anti-social behaviours, reduces aggression and emotional repression (Edwards and Bromfield 2009). Reduces aggressive behaviour (Bird 2007).
The value and the power of laughter cannot be overstated. It is the principle way of breaking down barriers of language and culture, and the seagulls use it to maximum effect. The proof is in the pudding and to watch them at work and witness the joy and laughter they bring to all the children and adults of every centre they visit has been a privilege. The effect you have here in Cambodia will long out last the time you spent here.
They brought love and laughter, enthusiasm, joy, quirkiness, mayhem and all with total professionalism. As the seagulls performed I looked around at groups of people, from tiny children to old men and women and the happiness on their faces was overwhelming. No common language is needed when it comes to these wonderful clowns, the language they use is laughter.
This was incredibly special for the community, both the children and the adults. It was a once in as lifetime experience for them, they have never seen anything like it before and likely never will again, unless you come back. We’re FULL of respect and admiration for what you do. Keep making kids laugh and breaking down social barriers. We won’t forget you, and neither will the people of Prolit!
It’s my pleasure to have been a part of the Flying seagulls for 3 days as they shared joy with our students in the slum communities where we work. Our organisation felt inspired by their message of ‘be sillier’ and ‘positive reinforcement’. They were a welcome break from the harsh realities we work around.
It seems to be 3 years since I started to work with you, and for all the time I have spent with you was amazing. I could learn from you so many things, and your energy is contagious. This week you have made more than 1000 children happy again, and feel joy because of you all. if there was more people like you for sure the world would be full of hopes and happiness. On behalf of thousands of children for the rural areas, we thank you for your time and work.
The children were captivated by the magic that was used, the music that was played, the circus acts that were shown and the dance moves that were presented. Regardless of all the troubles, all the horrible things they have seen and the harsh situations that they have been through, every child was able to laugh and love. We will never forget your visit.
In addition to the immediate happiness they brought, I can say that for me, and most likely our staff, we now have new tools for interacting with children in fun positive ways... While they are clowns, they are professionals who worked really hard and truly earned our respect. Upon request they even gave coaching to our junior teachers, which was relevant and appreciated. It was an amazing experience.
You have made a massive and unique contribution to our children’s welfare program. The pleasures of making music with instruments and getting to play around in wigs and face paint are common for children in the West, but for those in Prolit village these are days they will never forget. A huge thank you for donating the parachute! It is sure to make a great addition to our roster of activities. The colours alone are enough to brighten up a day for the kids.
The Seagulls delivered a fantastic series of workshops for our disability adults group & our Young Parents Project. They were thrilled by the project and keep asking the project to come back!
For both children in the residential centre and children in the day time therapy centre the seagulls workshops are a time of fun and escapism. It’s amazing to see how beautifully they react to the activities and gradually open up. Weeks and months after you are gone they keep asking about when you are coming back and the little ones with learning disabilities tend to walk up the stairs to get to the big magical room.
We have some very special children here. Normally they do not react to anything. Today, they reacted. Normally when we give them music, they cover their ears. Today they did not.