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CircEsteem is a non-profit 501c (3) organization and youth outreach program designed to help youth build self-esteem and respect for each other through the practice of circus arts
Our program focuses on teaching kids from diverse socio-economic, racial, cultural, and religious backgrounds to perform in a circus of their own. Currently, we serve 30-40 kids, ages 7-17 referred to our organization from Sunlight African Community Center, Chicago Connections Heartland Alliance Refugee Family Program, Centro Romero and Uptown Christian Ministries. Although these kids primarily live in Rogers Park, Edgewater, and Uptown, they make up a diverse group of children born both domestically and internationally including a significant refugee population representing counties as far away as Nigeria, Sudan, Eritrea, and Cambodia. According to a teacher at an elementary school in Uptown, racial, religious and cultural intolerance on the part of children of all ages represents a serious barrier to learning and peaceful socializing. CircEsteem also faces these same challenges when working with multi-cultural groups, but instead of accepting this in-tolerance as a part of everyday life, our program teaches students to breakdown stereotypes and dispels fears by insisting that they work together towards a common goal of learning and performing circus arts. Our approach to promoting tolerance is action based: focused and disciplined development of circus skills while having fun together. Through this type of mentoring, CircEsteem hopes to diminish the constant realities of drugs, crime, and prejudice by providing a positive environment that emphasizes goals, teamwork, and accomplishments. Our mission of uniting multi-ethnic groups of children and empowering them through circus arts is fulfilled in every class and is highlighted in every circus we perform.