Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 4th 2017 Contents B6 life
guardian.co.tt Thursday, May 4, 2017
A group of would-be circus
performers in New Jersey's cap-
ital city are using unicycles, ac-
robatics and spinning plates to
bridge the divide between pov-
erty and privilege.
The Trenton Circus Squad brings
American kids ages 12-17 from both
the struggling city and its wealthier
suburbs together, using circus skills
to give them a sense of belonging
and a belief in their own abilities.
While teaching young people to be
the ring masters of their own lives,
the kids also work on balancing on
large balls and wood planks, stilt
walking, trapeze skills, juggling and
slapstick clown routines.
"Because of the high crime, the
high unemployment going on here,
hope's hard to find in this city," said
programme director Tom von Oe-
hsen, who trained as a clown with
Ringling Bros in the 1980s. "And
these kids bring a lot of hope, and
a lot of positive energy to all the
different communities in this city."
Von Oehsen and Zoe Brookes, the
group's executive director, created
the circus squad two years ago to
try to change perceptions and stere-
otypes that lead to negative assump-
tions about teens in inner cities. Von
Oehsen calls it a "game changer" that
other cities can embrace to engage
inner city youth and keep them off
the streets. Brookes says they give the
kids "a really safe place to test their
limits and help them do things they
never thought were possible."
The group, which plans to start
a pilot programme in Camden this
summer, performs at nursing homes,
hospitals and community events.
Kids from other organisations like
Boys and Girls clubs and Scout
troops tag along on field trips.
While it started as a service project
for suburban high school students to
fulfill their community service re-
quirement for graduation, the kids
kept coming back even after they
completed their hours.
The squad is free to kids ages 12-
17, relying on donations to keep its
doors open. It performs six times a
year and holds community work-
shops in an old factory, teaching even
younger kids the art of the circus.
Children ages six and up are wel-
come to join a free circus workshop
led by members of the squad.
Members say they enjoy meeting
kids from different backgrounds,
knowing that they share some of
the same concerns. (AP)
In a photo taken Wednesday, April 19, Tiffany Thomas, centre, is held up by
Liam Quat, right, and Sonia Shah while working on a balancing act during a
workshop at the Trenton Circus Squad in Trenton, New Jersey. AP PHOTO
Circus of life: Dreams take
flight amid urban blight
These two young women
shared the same dream: to run
their own preschool and daycare
centre. When Josette Rouse and
Cerissa Charles became friends
while working together in 2013,
they decided that putting two
minds together was definitely
better than doing it solo.And to-
day, their dream is a reality: this
month they opened the doors of
the Giving Our Leaders A Right
Start (Golars) Learning Centre.
It is a playgroup and preschool
that caters for children between
the ages of one to five years old,
and is located on Luis Street,
Rouse and Charles are both cer-
tified from the University of West
Indies (UWI) in Early Childhood
Care and Education. Between them
they have more than ten years of
experience in daycare and teaching
preschool. They are also certified in
sign language and first aid.
The women saw the need for "a
holistic educational foundation that
gives our leaders a right start within
a safe and nurturing environment"
Their main challenge was locat-
ing a good site. With the help of
Carmino Properties Limited, they
found an appropriate property, and
have now opened the centre.
Rouse and Charles are the only
two teachers permanently on staff
at present, with two additional
teachers on standby in case the
centre temporarily requires more.
The women say they will run a
successful school where children
can learn and feel comfortable, in
safe surroundings. They say there
is a low student to teacher ratio, so
individual attention is guaranteed,
and the preschool/daycare centre
also offers extracurricular activities
and teaching of different languages.
The playgroup, for children be-
tween one and two years, introduces
the school setting to children---they
can learn to socialise as well as get
familiar with shapes, numbers, col-
ours and letters. The toddlers listen
to music , do movement activities,
and make arts and crafts, as well as
MORE INFO: Facebook @ Golars
Cerissa Charles, left, and Josette
Rouse of Golars Learning Centre.
New preschool in Woodbrook
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