FYI Vol. VII, No. I

National Study Shows Positive Impact of Circus Programming on Youth At Risk

Youth in social circus programs across the US are making big leaps in the skills they need to lead productive lives, according to a recently completed study commissioned by the American Youth Circus Organization (AYCO) and conducted by the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Effectiveness (CYPE).

Take Melvin Diggs, graduate of the St Louis, MO program, Circus Harmony, who says: “Circus didn’t change my life. It saved my life.” Diggs grew up expecting to join a gang, deal drugs and face a life of violence. Instead, he found somewhere to belong, to be challenged and to excel. Today, he works professionally performing circus arts and is currently in Cirque du Soleil’s touring show Luzia.

Social Circus is the application of the art and culture of the circus to help address social issues such as social isolation, impact of trauma, violence in communities and lack of access to arts and cultural activity. Each Social Circus program in the study is a member of the AYCO Social Circus Network. Some, like Prescott Circus Theatre in Oakland, CA focus on elementary school aged children, while others, such as Trenton Circus Squad in Trenton, NJ work primarily with teens. Each program is carefully designed to meet the needs of participants, and seeks to improve the social and emotional skills that youth need to thrive as adults: knowledge and awareness of emotions; the ability to manage emotions in behavior; the ability to seek help and to help others; and the ability to set and work towards goals.

CYPE conducted the study over nine months and eleven sites, with eight participating organizations. The study showed that youth in these social circus programs made progress in the development of social and emotional skills at the level of other exemplary youth development programs and well ahead of a nonselective group of after school youth programs.

Charles Smith, Chief Knowledge Officer at the David P Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality stated the following about the results, “It’s so refreshing to get unambiguous findings in relation to the group of programs in this study. That almost never happens! Our Center has been working for several years on establishing a benchmark for exemplary programs in building social and emotional skills and it’s particularly gratifying to have uncovered a set of programs that are generally performing at this high standard.”

The study showed that youth in these social circus programs made positive and substantial progress in the development of social and emotional skills. For example, the percentage of social circus youth struggling to demonstrate self-regulatory skills improved from 53% to only 19% by the end of the program. These impacts were at the level of a comparison group of eight exemplary youth development programs and well ahead of impacts found in a non-selective comparison group of over 350 other after-school youth programs previously studied by CYPE.
While some social circus graduates like Melvin go on to professional careers, that’s not the main aim. Social circus programs build a sense of empowerment, tenacity and confidence that helps youth find a positive path and overcome barriers in their lives.

“Social circus promotes creative youth and community development beyond what can be achieved through other sports and arts activities” explains Cohen.

The programs participating in the study were:
• Circus Harmony, St Louis, MO
o Contact Jessica Hentoff Tel: www.circusharmony.org
• Circus Smirkus Ringmaster Residencies, Greensboro, VT
o Contact Jennifer Carlo Tel: www.smirkus.org
• Fern Street Circus, San Diego, CA
o Contact John Highkin Tel: www.fernstreetcircus.com
• My Nose Turns Red, Cincinnati, OH
o Contact Steve Roenker Tel: www.mynoseturnsred.org
• Prescott Circus Theatre, Oakland, CA
o Contact David Hunt Tel: www.prescottcircus.org
• School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts Social Circus Program, Seattle, WA
o Contact Ian Jagel Tel: www.sancaseattle.org
• Trenton Circus Squad, Trenton, NJ
o Contact Zoe Brookes Tel: www.trentoncircussquad.org
• Wise Fool New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
o Contact Amy Christian Tel: www.wisefoolnewmexico.org

• The David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program empowers education and human service leaders to adapt, implement and bring to scale best-in-class, research-validated quality improvement systems to advance child and youth development. The Center is a division for the Forum for Youth Investment. www.cypq.org.

Celebrity Circus Artists Coming to Vermont

For its once a year fundraising event, New England Center for Circus Arts of Brattleboro, VT. invites professional performers from around the world to donate their talents to raise money for Circus in the Neighborhood, NECCA’s scholarship and outreach programming.

Two shows will be presented on March 3 and 4 in the Latchis Theatre. The 2018 Celebrity host Ringmaster will be Keith Nelson, multi skilled star and co-founder of the Bindlestiff Family Circus, a national traveling theater-based circus.

Other highlight performers convening in Brattleboro from around the world include –
• Joel Herzfeld will perform a clever handbalancing act as well as an upbeat rock and roll cyr wheel act. Herzfeld has most recently performed with acclaimed Canadian company Les 7 Doigts De La Main on the national US tour of the award winning Broadway show ‘Pippin’.

• Shannon McKenna will be bringing her aerial silks number from Berlin’s Wintergarten variete theater. McKenna trained in physical theater before discovering circus and brings a captivating strength and creativity to her work.
• Duo aerialists Kyla Ernst-Alper & Sylvana Tapia are dancers turned aerialists who have performed together in London, Mumbai, and The Bahamas, as well as in the United States. Known as RAVEN, the duo calls New York City home and can regularly be seen at The Slipper Room, The House of YES, and The Box.

• Other performers include Elise Sipos (Washington, DC), Cassady Rose Bonjo (New York, NY), Lauren Breunig (Brattleboro, VT), and perennial favorites to enlighten the evening are Vermont’s clown treasure Troy Wunderle and Canada’s mime star Mario Diamond.

Through Circus in the Neighborhood, NECCA offers diverse custom experiences ranging from after school programs to specialized instruction for at risk youth, workshops for people with disabilities to performances in area group homes and rehabilitation centers as well as need based scholarships. Examples of past programs include empowerment workshops offered on site for low income housing developments Moore Court, Ledgwood Heights and Westgate; customized programming for autistic youth at the INSPIRE for Autism school and children receiving mental health treatment at the Retreat; Free juggling club weekly at the Boys & Girls Club; Free enrollment to high school age residents from the Retreat; community performances supporting Brattleboro Gallery Walk, Grace Cottage Hospital, Eliot StreeBlock t Party, and Kids Fair.

 

Have you signed up for the March Wheel Weekend yet?

Join us on March 9-11, 2018 for a weekend of competition, training, coaching and judging workshops for Cyr AND Gym wheel. Hosted in Chicago, IL at the Willye B. White recreation center and Chase Park, Wheel Weekend brings athletes and performers from all over the nation and world to roll around in a massive gym with the best of the best. Led by world-class coaches, this is the perfect weekend to jump in as a newbie or return as a seasoned vet and brush up on your skills or try something new in a safe environment.

This March Wheel Weekend alsomarks the 2018 USA Wheel National Trials. This competition is the third and final qualifying round for becoming a member of TEAM USA for the World Championships in Switzerland in May and counts for 65% of your qualifying score.

Register for Wheel Weekend before February 10 and save 5% on all course fees with the coupon code “earlybirdfeb.”
Register to compete in National Trials before February 10 and save 10% discount with the coupon code “Completefeb.”

All activities hosted by USAWG requires every participant to sign a yearly waiver and pay a membership fee. Get your membership taken care of now so you can focus on all things Wheel.
Wheel Retreat in Madison, WI.

Join four-time national champion Carly Schuna and U.S. national team coach Luke Emery for a fun, intensive and all-levels German wheel training retreat at the Madison Circus Space on April 13-15, 2018. The prices include 12 hours of training, two optional grpoup dinners, fun swag, and admission for at least one group field gtrip. A la carte private and small group lessons in other disciplines, such as Cyr wheel, static trapeze, dance trapeze, aerial silks, lyra and sling ae available. Stay tuned for final registration and schedule details.

WHEEL RETREAT IN MADISON, WI

Join four-time U.S. national champion Carly Schuna and U.S. national team coach Luke Emery for a fun, intensive, all-levels German wheel training retreat at the Madison Circus Space on April 13th-15th, 2018! The price includes 12 hours of training, two optional group dinners, fun swag, and admission for at least one group field trip. A la carte private and small-group lessons in other disciplines, such as Cyr wheel, static trapeze, dance trapeze, aerial silks, lyra, and sling are available. Stay tuned for final registration and schedule details!