The youth living in slums remains one of the least understood, vulnerable, and most difficult groups to reach even if the few organizations working into these realities have made some improvements in addressing basic needs. But the complexity of those needs, the high number of adolescents – 80% of them unemployed – coupled with the shortage of essential services and incentive for self-care, made the transition to an independent and healthy living difficult to achieve.

Historically, circus arts’ training has provided a “sanctuary” in which neglected groups are celebrated for their gifts. The artistry, thrill, and wonder inherent in circus arts have a particular power to inspire youth for whom other artistic, athletic, sectarian or therapeutic interventions have failed to engage.

A move from unemployment situation to independence requires lots of work, being an informed individual, self-care, ethical development, accountability, everyday discipline and a dose of luck. Aside from luck developing these qualities for the sake of integrating into the mainstream holds little appeal for most youth… instead circus training where is a must to achieve something that seems impossible, clamps a much more fascinating motivation and inspirational model in the quest for a better future.

According to Cirque du Soleil™:

Social Circus is a way of approaching social problems derived from an innovative fusion between circus arts and social intervention. By demanding tenacity, perseverance and discipline, social circus empowers participants to use their marginality to express themselves and establish a new relationship with a society that has often excluded them… it constitutes a real tool for acquiring resilience because it is based on surpassing one’s goal, self-actualization resulting from one’s own strengths and capacities, collective cooperation and the guidance of responsible adults. With an approach centred on the circus arts and social intervention, social circus acts as a powerful agent of social transformation.

The trainees at Kasikonda Circus School are a good example of youth empowerment and resources optimization. Thanks to the rehearsals and the paramount backstage work of incorporating relevant cross-cutting issues to youths into circus shows, they know first hand how lack of information and knowledge impact their lives.

Kasikonda Youth Circus School wants to be part of this growing worldwide movement called “Social Circus”, a relatively new vogue, which refers to the utilization of circus arts as a tool for individual empowerment, community development, and social transformation. These classes are produced by HCU’s trainers and international volunteers supported with professional circus equipment and tools. Autonomy, solidarity, self-esteem, physical fitness, communication, resilience, and adaptability are some of the skills learned and practised by the attendees in a non-competitive setting.

Implementing these activities teaches collaboration, individual/teamwork efforts and act as a prevention tool to adolescent distress. In this process, they are using all their creative talents with passionate voices and exercise to inform other mates and inspire behaviour change into communities. It is quite empowering to have their local stories elevated to a wider audience… youth in circus are the protagonists and everyone smiles in the same language!

All this was possible thanks to our first international volunteer, Ayal Prouser, from New York City. Ayal is not only a big friend of HCU but also a very prepared trainer really committed to helping disadvantaged youth using the Social Circus approach. Now Ayal is a board member of our organization and HCU “ambassador” in the United States of America.

How can you help?

HCU has got a pool of talented, hungry and committed young Ugandans, eager to turn their lives around using circus and performing arts. HCU youth wants to impact in conscious living for a clean and sustainable environment in Uganda. What we need are committed individuals, groups or organizations who can donate cash, equipment, time, skill and space. HCU would like to connect with groups working toward promoting the rights of the child and youth in reshaping a moral and conscious society in Uganda with your help.

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