Boosting Uptown kids' self-esteem through the art of circus

CHICAGO (WLS) -- What happens when you combine circus acts and childhood development? CircEsteem, that's what.

"Our name comes from circus and self-esteem," 13-year-old Taylor Fost said. "We want to build each other's self-confidence and self-esteem through the circus arts. That's what we do here."

Fost has been performing with the social circus for the past seven years. She's a former gymnast and dancer, so joining the circus seemed like a natural step.

"This is a mixture between all of the arts. I can use my gymnastics skills, tumbling, aerial and dance skills to be contemporary and creative," Fost said.

She's one of the dozens of kids who come to CircEsteem's home-base in Uptown nearly every weekday.

"We're a place for everyone, no matter where they come from or what they have or don't have. Everybody needs self-esteem and everybody needs someplace where they can be themselves," Executive Director Dan Roberts said.

And for almost 20 years, CircEsteem has been that place. Its mission is to teach kids about inclusion, teamwork and respect through circus arts. Kids learn juggling, manipulation, unicycling, tumbling, trapeze and so much more through the program.

"To see the look on a kids' eyes when they first juggle or spin a plate it's like a light goes off. It's just so magical to see," said Sam Brown, CircEsteem program coordinator.

The organization offers classes, an after-school program, workshops and camps for people of all ages to enjoy. It also has partnerships with schools around the city of Chicago for on-site after school programming.

"As a social circus we're focused on the youth themselves and building them up with amazing skills but also with confidence, teamwork and respect," Brown said.

To learn more information visit their website.
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