Benjamin Berry

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Making creative movement and circus arts accessible for ALL!

About Accessible Circus Project

Accessible Circus Project provides free/subsidized accessible movement-based programming and circus props to individuals, families, and organizations that have been impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This initiative is led by
Benjamin Berry in partnership with Accessible Festivals, a non-profit organization committed to making recreation and leisure accessible to all abilities.

Our current campaign: to provide movement-based instruction and circus props to 500 individuals in one year!

Goals of the Project

  • To create movement-based recreational and educational opportunities that are thoughtfully designed to be accessible for all ages and levels of ability.
     

  • To promote wellness by targeting physical/functional, cognitive, emotional, and social capacities tied to circus arts and creative movement.
     

  • To address socioeconomic inequity by providing free and subsidized movement-based programming and circus props to individuals and groups who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; and 
     

  • To build a diverse and nurturing community centered around the intersections between the therapeutic and educational uses of circus arts and creative movement, accessibility, diversity, and inclusion. 

How it Works

Those who are eligible to be project beneficiaries can apply to receive free/subsidized movement sessions and/or props.

Sessions will be delivered either in-person in the WNY area following state-mandated guidelines for physical distancing and mask wearing
or virtually through Zoom and similar platforms.

Props will be delivered by mail or in-person in the WNY area.

Who is Eligible

If you, your family, an individual in your care, or your organization has been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, then you are eligible to apply for free/subsidized Accessible Circus sessions and/or circus props.

Your contribution to the cost of sessions/props depends entirely on your ability to pay and the amount of funding we are able to allocate based on grant support and individual donations towards this project. If you are able to provide partial payment, more funding will be available for other individuals and organizations who apply.

Examples of potential beneficiaries of this project include but are not limited to the following:

  • Individuals with autism and/or physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities, and organizations that serve those populations (such as Dayhab programs)

  • Families who have experienced loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Schools, senior care facilies, and other organizations whose budgets for recreational, physical education, or arts enrichment programs have been lessened 
     

To begin the application process, please fill out the form at the bottom of this page (or click here to jump to the application).

Pictured above: gentle seated hula hoop stretches with residents of Weinberg Campus

Pictured below: Circus Toy Kit which contains 3 juggling/dance scarves, 3 juggling balls, and a pair of fabric poi.

Why Circus Arts?

Benefits of Circus Arts

Historically, the world of circus arts celebrated diversity and pushed the limits of human potential. The modern Social Circus movement uses circus arts as a therapeutic and educational tool, as well as a medium for social justice and social good. 

 

We lean most heavily into prop-based circus arts because they are instantly engaging, accessible, novel, and provide a variety of sensory experiences.

Incorporating circus arts into one's holistic wellness plan helps improve learning and life skills for all ages and levels of ability. In fact, a study conducted by
Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality revealed that practicing circus arts improved teamwork, initiative, empathy, responsibility, problem solving, and emotional management – all key components of social emotional learning. 

Physical Benefits: 

  • boosts strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination

  • improves alignment and range of motion 

  • develops fine/gross motor control

  • increases proprioception and spatial awareness

  • provides a fun low-impact aerobic exercise
     

Cognitive Benefits:

  • builds focus/attention

  • strengthens working memory

  • teaches appropriate goal setting

  • provides opportunities for sensory processing

  • enhances neuromuscular connectivity
     

 Social Emotional Benefits: 

  • builds self efficacy and self esteem through the process of learning new skills

  • alleviates stress, anxiety, and depression

  • provides an emotional outlet through creative self-expression

  • encourages empathy and teamwork

About Our Approach

The Props We Use

 
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Pictured above from left to right: set of three juggling/dance scarves, pair of two fabric poi (spinning prop originating from Māori people of New Zealand), and a
set of three juggling balls

Our approach is inspired by three pedagogical pillars: Holistic Circus Therapy, Creative Dance, and the CASEL Model of Social Emotional Learning.

Click each pillar below to read more about how each one helps lay a foundation for our Accessible Circus sessions.

Pictured below from left to right:
spinning plates and hula hoops

What Every Accessible Circus Session Includes

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Every Accessible Circus session will include:

  • a full body-brain warm up using the BrainDance, a series of exercises based on developmental movement patterns that help rewire the sensory-motor system

  • creative explorations and games that promote social-emotional learning competencies

  • skill building with one or more circus props

  • a cool-down with time for reflection

Donate

This project is fiscally sponsored by the 501(3)(c) non-profit organization Accessible Festivals. All donations are tax-deductible with Tax ID: 47-1805055. We are grateful for any and all support! 

 

Other Ways to Support

In addition to donating funds, there are several other ways to support our mission:
 

  • In-Kind Circus Prop Donations. We are accepting donations of unused circus props including but not limited to:

    • hula hoops

    • poi (fabric poi preferred)

    • juggling/dance scarves

    • juggling balls

    • and we are open to more!

  • In-Kind Supplies Donations. To lower the supply costs of DIY circus props, we are accepting:

    • packs of 12" balloons in various colors

    • 12 lb+ bags of rice

    • bulk packs of long (shin length or more) colorful socks for fabric poi
       

  • Letting us know about open governmental and foundational grant opportunities that you think would fit our mission.
     

  • Spreading the word to potential donors and folks who may want to apply for free/subsidized services.
     

  • Following us on social media
     

To reach out about supporting our mission, please contact us at ben@benjaminberry.com.

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
 
Application for Free/Subsidized Instruction and/or Circus Props 
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Which movement activities and/or circus props are you most interested in? (you may select multiple)
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Thanks for submitting! We will reach out via email soon.