Next time your daughter threatens to run away and join the
circus, consider encouraging her to do just that. CircEsteem,
aka Chicago Youth Circus, teaches children circus arts as a way to
promote self-esteem, coordination, teamwork and learning. In
addition to working with students in select city schools, the
organization's Uptown location offers classes, after-school
programs and summer camps for kids starting at age 7.
All CircEsteem sessions culminate in some
kind of performance, the main show taking place in the spring.
All class sessions culminate in some kind of performance, the
main show taking place in the spring. Kids have been perfecting
their juggling and balance skills, practicing on the trampoline,
twirling on silk ropes and spinning round and round in gymnastic
wheels in preparation for two shows in May. When my sons and I
joined the Saturday morning "beginners" class a few weeks before
the show, students were visibly excited about the upcoming
performances. Whether they were spinning plastic plates or juggling
while balancing on large balls, the kids were mastering stage
presence and poise.
Because CircEsteem draws from so many neighborhoods, classes
feature students (and instructors) of every size, shape and color.
This multi-cultural atmosphere is another way of making everyone
feel welcome. In addition to using adult instructors, some of whom
are former circus performers, CircEsteem has a jobs program where
more experienced teenage students work with the younger kids. It's
a great way for kids of different ages to interact and seems to
inspire the younger ones.
After joining the class for a communication and trust-building
game, my sons, age 8 and 9, were thrown right into the show.
Children are encouraged to try a variety of skills, both large and
small motor. My sons were no exception as they moved from balance
boards to plate spinning. "I can't do it" is not an option at
CircEsteem as instructors patiently teach and re-teach. It was
beautiful to see how every degree of success was applauded and
celebrated. I was amazed at my sons' achievements in just one short
class, as they had to combine a new skill with choreography and
CircEsteem is currently accepting registration for weekly summer
camps. Campers will perform in parades as well as various summer
festivals. For a full schedule of camps and classes, visit their
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