Laughing in the face of the economy
 
Lead Story reported by Nadia Crow

The unstable economy is no laughing matter, but a group of Michaina students are using some unusual techniques to help people get through these difficult times.  A giggle, chuckle, or snicker may lead to a better lifestyle.

Doctors say they've been using laughter as medicine since the 1970s.  And with plenty of things to be sad about in today's economy, some LaPorte High School students spent their morning encouraging people to look on the bright side and laugh.

"I think laughter can make your day brighter and just automatically make you feel better inside," said Mary Beth Burton who enjoys

 laughing.

That's why Mary Beth Burton bought this hour long CD of laugher.

Unique Gifted Lovable You or UGLY is a non for profit organization all about teen self-esteem building.

"We face racism, we face bullying," said  Victor Vargas who laughs as his medicine.

LaPorte High School sophomore Victor Vargas is one of handful of Hey UGLY students who stood outside a grocery store in LaPorte on World Laughter Day to sell their disc and get people to chuckle in the face of various problems.  Vargas says that laughing is his remedy.

"So you start laughing all of a sudden and you forget what you were all worried about.  No stress, no self-esteem, you feel comfortable like you can let everything out," said Vargas.

And in today's economically unstable times, Registered Nurse Judy Dean says finding a bit of optimism and laughing when appropriate can help people get through difficult times.

"This is an extremely hard time now with the economy, but if the general public can just remember to see some of the bright sides of what's going on," said Registered Nurse Judy Dean.

This CD is an hour long, but all you need to do is laugh for 10 or 15 minutes to make yourself feel a whole lot better.

"You're doing an intricate exercise to your diaphragm, your oxygen increases so your brain gets more oxygen," said Dean.

And some research shows that laughing can also help you loose weight.  But Dean says the best thing about laughing is that...

"It's free.  No one has to have a prescription," said Dean.

All the proceeds from purchasing the 'Laugh It Off' CD will go straight to teen outreach programs in LaPorte.




         

LOL - LP students help others laugh it up Timothy O'Connor - Brandi Morrow once laughed for 10 minutes straight. The 15-year-old was up late the night before with a friend and they entered that odd, worn-out delirium that often leads to laughter.


"That was intense," she said. "It took me awhile to get my breath back."

So the La Porte High School freshman was prepared to ambush strangers with laughter for World Laughter Day.

Morrow and a small group of fellow students participated in the Spread Laughter Project on Sunday. They stood, danced and joked around outside Kroger on Pine Lake Avenue and tried to get customers to laugh as they entered and left the grocery store.

The goal was to sell copies of "Laugh it Off." It's a $5 hour-long laugh-track CD featuring the guffaws of Richard Schoen, a voice actor who has narrated commercials for everything from Fruit Loops to Miller Beer, and Betty Hoeffner, a representative of Unique Gifted Lovable You, the self-esteem building organization that put out the CDs. Hoeffner was on-hand Sunday and the CD played in the background while the students made their pitch.

The money is going toward U.G.L.Y. and students' community projects.

For all their efforts at making others smile, the kids were surprised how many people literally ran away from them.

"(One) guy said he didn't like to laugh," Martin Garcia, another volunteer, said.

There was a lot of that. About half the people leaving Kroger on Pine Lake Avenue walked past the students without saying a thing. The other half stopped, some even smiled. But only about 50 people had bought the CD after more than two hours.

"I think I learned there are different kids of people," Martin said. "People who are going to listen and some people just think you're going to take their money."

Brandi said she felt bad for the latter group.

"Why wouldn't you want to laugh?" she said.

But the students didn't get discouraged. They stayed
upbeat even as their three-hour shift ended. That enthusiasm rubbed off on some of the customers.

"It's contagious like the swine flu," Fabian Rangel said as he bought the CD. He said he'd listen to it at home as a way to unwind.

The constant laugh-track worked for the volunteers as well. Many said they felt happier after a few hours of laughing and that they would bring the chuckles back home.

"I'm probably going to listen to it when I get home just to see what my parents say about it," Brandi said.

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Need to raise money for your school or club but don't want to sell fattening cookies or candy?  Hey U.G.L.Y.'s Laughtercising CD is the perfect answer. Laughter has been proven to reduce stress and impact weight loss.  Contact PreventBullyingNow@heyugly.org for special "Fundraising" pricing and customized covers.