Zoe Brookes

New Jersey


Teens and instructor in orange t-shorts working on a gymnatic acrobatic body pyramid

Squad members collaborate in a group pyramid. Photo courtesy of Isometric Studio

At Trenton Circus Squad, we use the power of the circus daily to bring kids together, overcome differences and develop their own sense of power. We invite teens from diverse backgrounds, who would not normally meet, to work together, developing skills and creating performances. Through this process they grow into powerful, competent individuals, capable of earning respect and challenging society's traditional limitations. They become wonderful role models. Trenton Circus Squad helps the local community by performing, and welcoming others to try the skills they have learned. Instead of creating a separation between audience and performers, our Squad members are saying, "Look at us, look at what we have learned, you can do this too."

Trenton Circus Squad is a proud member of the American Youth Circus Organization's Social Circus Initiative. We believe that circus has the power to help youth in four special ways:

Circus arts promotes physical and mental health and wellness:

Students of circus learn a multitude of physically expressive skills: juggling promotes cross-body and hand-eye coordination; unicycling and wire walking promote core strength and balancing skills; acrobatics and aerials foster strength and motor control. Children who train in the circus become physically confident, healthy, capable adults who understand the capabilities and limits of their bodies.

Circus arts fosters human connection and belonging:

Circus performers must rely on connections with both trusted adults and their peers (colleagues) to keep them safe and physically and emotionally supported through scary, difficult skills. Children who train in the circus learn to ask for and give help, developing positive relationships and communication skills. Children learn to feel safe and to recognize and help create safe environments.

Circus encourages civic engagement, citizenship, cultural & socioeconomic integration:

Circus calls for humans to work in a circle, where everyone has a voice, diversity is affirmed, and everyone has an important job to do. The work of creating circus mirrors constructive engagement in community.
Children who study circus learn how to effect change in their lives and the world around them.

Circus builds tenacity and resilience :

Circus provides a safe container for the repeated practice of risk taking, failure and recovery. By supporting ongoing creativity, invention, and effort, rather than “winning”, circus teaches children to reach beyond what they thought possible. Circus presents the student with difficult physical and expressive challenges that can only be mastered through repeated practice. Children experience the rewards of focused work towards a personal goal. Children in the circus learn tenacity, enabling them to transcend their own and society’s assumptions.