They’re also healing’: Circus performers teach homeless children their craft, life lessons

Circus performers look like they’re having fun, but a lot of hard work and commitment goes into mastering their craft.

In the process, they also learn about teamwork and build self-confidence.

Circus Up is a local program that teaches homeless and at-risk children those life skills by showing them how to perform like they’re under the big top.

“What we do is bring circus to underserved communities in the Boston area,” explained Leah Abel, the executive director of Circus Up. “We also work to increase togetherness and belonging, creating a place for kids to belong and really thrive.”

Abel said the children learn failure is OK if they have trouble with a trick or task. “It’s part of life and that if we drop a juggling ball, we pick it up and we keep going.”

That is a particularly strong message for a group of kids at the Brookview House in Dorchester.

They are all either homeless, at risk for homelessness, or dealing with some other trauma.

Circus Up comes each week to work with the children.

“We see that as our role to provide them with access to things they might not normally have access to,” said Deborah Collins, the Chief Operating Officer.

Collins thinks the program has a positive impact on the kids

“They’re learning not only the circus arts, so they’re learning the tumbling, they’re learning the juggling, they’re learning the flipping thru the air, but they’re also healing. They’re beginning to feel more confident. They’re learning to trust themselves, but more importantly, they’re having fun.”

Abel knows most of these kids will never perform in a circus, but she believes the lessons they’re learning will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

“Here kids are doing what looks like extremely difficult things, and we show them that it’s something that’s possible and that will transfer over to other areas of their lives, and we know that to be true.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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