Image showing Circus Family Fun Night girl with diaboloSince 2002, AGC! has concentrated on reaching 3,000 school kids per year with a full array of educational programs. Two years ago, we made a fundamental shift in our direction when we decided to:

– Work with only 4 schools a year, who are the poorest and least healthy schools in the NY Tri-State area as defined by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation* research of the 62 counties in New York State.

West Haverstraw Elementary School qualified as the first school on our target list in Rockland County, NY.

For the past 2 Fall school sessions, “Mr. Amazing” (that’s me) has taught AGC!’s original program CircusGYM™ to 200 3rd-graders 3 days a week for 10 weeks, culminating in two holiday school-wide performances. I teach these students how to juggle balls, scarves and rings, spin plates, toss diablos, tumble, acro-balance, create human pyramids and walk on a tight-wire.  

In Year 1 (2015) the PE Instructors and myself designed CircusGYM to focus on the performance aspect of circus arts learning. In Year 2 (2016) we looked at CircusGYM’s ability to influence how children act, think and behave differently. In Year 3, should we be funded again, we will expand on Year 2’s focus and, additionally, have the program evaluated by a professional Program Evaluator. 

Why teach circus arts to these kids?  Because learning Circus Arts improves self-confidence, self-worth and decreases self-doubt, all while improving academic achievement by at least 3%. 

So What? you might say. They are only going to improve by 3%. In the case of children who speak little English when they arrive at WHES (20% of the student population), ANY percentage improvement is terrific news. 

Other great results: At the beginning of the 10-week program, only 20% of the class could do a cartwheel. By the end, 75% could do a cartwheel. That’s a 300% improvement.

west haverstraw elementary school studentsSo What? you might say. Who Cares? Those kids care. Their squeals of delight and announcement of “I DID IT!” after working hard to accomplish the skill demonstrates the habit of improvement.

So What? you might say. Who Cares? You know what? After two years of CircusGYM, according to the teachers, we see 60% of the 3rd grade students approaching their homework in a more systematic manner just like the way they learned to juggle. Teachers tell us that right after a CircusGYM class, student’s are able to approach problem-solving and reading more sequentially. When asked by the teacher what reading and problem-solving are most like, students answer juggling.

And who funds CircusGYM at West Haverstraw Elementary School?  CircusGYM is partially funded by the Arts Council of Rockland (ACOR), New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), the target school, and generous donations from folks like you.

Which brings me to my point: HOW YOU CAN HELP Year 3 programming costs $7,500. We ask the target school to contribute $1,000 only and we, AGC!, commit to raising the balance: found by writing grants and soliciting funds from private donors…like you.

This is our 2017 Appeal:

Help us fund Year 3 at West Haverstraw Elementary to so that these 3rd graders get a leg up on improving their lives and learning abilities

Help us fund Year 1 at one other target school.

What will we do with the money?

1) Bring in an apprentice circus arts instructor to:

a) help teach more kids more efficiently in each class, and

b) learn the CircusGYM program well enough to conduct it on their own in the next target school.

2) Hire a program evaluator to examine the effectiveness of CircusGYM with this particular population of students.

May we ask one more thing of you? Tell a friend about what we do for kids. Maybe in time, or this year, they would like to help us make kids smarter while they have more fun so they can say, “I DID IT!” more often.  

Yours in circus,

Mr. Amazing


*Robert Wood Johnson Foundation research: