Dear adventurers alike,
I wanted to write a blog about a local adventure that happens where I live in Macomb, Illinois. A dear family friend of mine, Amy Fansler, runs a Circus Academy at the local YMCA. I think it is an awesome program, enabling kids and parents from the community to get involved.
Below is an interview with Amy followed by some comments by her two daughters, Jesse (13) and Juliet (10).
1. Amy, what influenced you to start the circus program?
My own background in co-ed circus at college level and professionally.
2. What are your favorite aspects of it?
I started youth circus because I’ve always had a love for it. I had three children coming of age where they could thrive in a program like that. My favorite aspects of it are that everyone can find something that they’re good at and feel valuable.
3. What are the most challenging things about it?
It’s very chaotic, at times…a lot of young children in one place at the same time, with a lot of equipment that you could potentially get hurt on.
4. Why do you think it is important for your local community?
A similar youth circus started decades ago in Peru, Indiana. What I read about them is it’s in a rural town and it thrived because it was an area where there wasn’t a lot to do. Since I had the background and skills, I had a feeling that it would thrive because this is also a community that does not have a whole lot to do. There’s a lot of great families but not a lot for them to do.
5. What do you like most about circus?
Jesse: How it’s different and you can kind of just explore your ideas and different ways of expressing your emotions through a routine.
Julie: It is really fun and you get to run around. You get to play around on equipment. At the beginning you get to know what it feels like to get on the equipment and start coming up with a routine. You get to learn dances like Michael Jackson….
What some of the kids involved have to say:
Madden: Circus is a time to have fun.
Maylin: Circus is a place where you might be scared when it’s time for a show but you have miss Amy and the teachers to help you.
Owen: I can do talented tricks in circus.
Jesse: Circus, it’s not just clowns with white stuff on their face.
Some important ways this local adventure clowns around to impact their community:
Throughout the year circus kids perform in local parades and small demos are put on so Circus kids can show off their skills to parents, relatives, friends, and community members. The demo show in December is also a chance for the audience to help the community by contributing to the local food pantry with either cash or non-perishable food items. All donations go to the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry which 11 churches in the area help maintain.
“This youth program gives so much more to the local children then a safe, fun place to spend their Friday night! The Circus Academy promotes leadership, self-esteem, improved coordination skills, balance, body awareness, flexibility, fights childhood obesity, improves social skills, promotes team work, performance experience which promotes more comfort with such things as public speaking later in life, creativity, improved sense of self-worth, community service, and I could go on and on…”.
“But the biggest asset in my opinion in a society where people are sometimes victims of depression, bullying, school shootings as a result of kids feeling alone and alienated is….a sense of belonging to something bigger than yourself and feeling valuable… this I believe to be priceless.” Amy Fansler YMCA Circus Coordinator & Creator, B.S., PTA, ACE certified fitness professional and mother of 3.
–All above information in bold is taken directly from an article written by Cindy Cavett, Aquatics and Fitness Director at the McDonough County YMCA in Macomb, IL–
*All photos taken by Heidi Benson*