In April, 2019, a student enrolled in special day class at Montera Middle School familiar with Prescott Circus called the PCT office asking for the opportunity to get involved. The student put her teacher, Miss Chinn, on the phone and insisted she speak with PCT’s Director. This resulted in a one-day workshop series for three special education classes that May. This one student initiated workshop has since grown into a year long program – the Every-Body Circus.
Now into our second year, students in grades 6-8 with moderate / moderate-severe disabilities are having a blast and building their confidence. The program is led by resident teaching artists Ori Quesada and Debra Moore. Juggling is helping them to increase their motor skills and coordination. Clowning, puppetry, and lots of opportunities to shine for one another is a huge boost to promote social skills and a sense of connection, especially now online. “Circus at home” juggling equipment bags have greatly supported their engagement and learning.
A couple of weeks ago we practiced entering and exiting with sock puppets, and the students used the puppet to talk about their favorite circus equipment. One student said they like the rings best because they were round. Another student said bean bags because they could ‘throw-throw-catch-catch
Students took pride in the show-what-you-know time and leading the group in activities. They are never the leaders in general ed. classes. They are usually the “out” kids: speaking out of turn, falling out of their chair. This was a safe structured place for them to shine in these other areas.
– Miss Bruin, Classroom teacher with autism spectrum students