Organization empowering local kids through circus

NOW: Organization empowering local kids through circus


BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- A nonprofit organizations is empowering children in Michiana through the practice and performance of circus arts.

Circesteem is a Chicago-based non-profit organization whose mission is to develop kids’ personal and social skills.

“We’re looking for, to develop the opportunity for them to realize, ‘I’m proud of myself,’” said Circesteem teacher Les Rorick.

For the next two weeks, Circesteem is working alongside The GhostLight Theater to teach a handful of children how to juggle, ride a German wheel, spin on a lyra hoop, and other skills.

They don’t expect kids to master the art of circus, instead they hope kids learn how to trust others, express their creativity, and realize their potential.

“When they’re juggling, they’ll try one or two times and drop it, one or two times and drop it and they get so down, you can see their body language change,” said Rorick. “Hunch shoulders, eyes downcast. It’s a great opportunity to go up and say, ‘Hey, I know it’s difficult, but we want you to try.’ They do and the way their faces light up when all of a sudden they do it and they’ve caught all the balls and just the smile across their face is priceless.”

A former Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey clown founded the organization in 2001.

“We know that it’s important to make sure that they can be who they are,” said Rorick. “Many of the students that we do work with are in maybe rougher areas and so we know they don’t have a lot of opportunity, they don’t have a lot of access to these cool things that we’re working with.  Sometimes [they say], ‘I’ve never seen this before,’ and they’re so proud and happy afterwards [they say], ‘I did something that I didn’t think I could do!’ and that’s really wonderful.”

“It’s something that I’ve never done before and it’s actually a great opportunity for me,” said Tommie Ellis.

The 11-year-old Benton Harbor student said he learned how to use a lyra hoop, do a backflip, and trust himself this week.

“It was scary, then when I got on and when I got off of it, I realized it was easy, easier than it looks and it was fun actually,” said Ellis.

Ellis thinks its a lesson other kids should learn too.

“They probably have hidden talents that they didn’t know that they had and plus some people probably don’t trust themselves as they actually supposed to and that can help them actually learn how to trust themselves,” said Ellis.

To learn more about Circesteem, request their services, or sign up for their camp in Benton Harbor next week, click here.

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