Circus gives kids a world of hope
FOR many children, a trip to the circus is something they get to see in movies, an experience they can only dream about.
The Zip Zap Circus School is changing this, one child at a time, with a project which this year aims to open up a whole new world of possibilities for more than 1 000 youngsters from 27 primary schools and children’s homes in underprivileged areas of Cape Town. Last year, with support from the HCI Foundation, 733 children attended 18 Zip Zap workshops.
The Second Chance Project has been running since 2009 but Zip Zap, a non-profit organisation, has been around much longer. It was founded 24 years ago and has helped generations of youngsters become professional circus performer. Some have gone on to wow audiences in other parts of the world.
Earlier this month, 67 Grade 3 pupils travelled from Elnor Primary school in Elsies River in a bus provided by Golden Arrow to the Zip Zap dance dome in central Cape Town for a special outing – a day at the circus.
Even before the children, aged 8 and 9 years old, arrived at the dome they were buzzing with excitement because some had never been to the city centre. During the bus ride, their teachers pointed out landmarks. When they arrived at the Zip Zap centre, the kids split into groups and tried out some fun circus activities before watching a show.
Remember, this is not the kind of circus where animals are forced to perform in a ring, but a circus that shows off the skills of acrobats and other performers. The children enjoyed performing tricks on a trampoline, walking on a tightrope, hanging upside down on a trapeze, juggling and doing cartwheels and handstands with acrobats. No wonder they smiled broadly and laughed with delight as they lined up to take their turn on each apparatus.
“I have never been to the circus and have only ever seen performers on TV,” said Geneva Goliath.
“These tricks aren’t as hard as they look, you just have to try. It is so much fun,” she explained.
Fellow pupil Vincent Chaima’s favourite activity was learning how to jump on the trampoline, flip and land safely on the big, soft mat. He was impressed with the show put on at the end of the workshop by Zip Zap’s performers, who left all the youngsters (and some teachers) wide-eyed and amazed.
“One day I want to be the one who does those balancing tricks on a bicycle,” Vincent said, adding he’d laughed a great deal when a juggling ball landed on someone’s head.
Brent van Rensburg, co-founder of Zip Zap, said the circus was a great way for children to learn important life skills, discipline and team spirit.
“This programme is about inspiring youngsters from the roughest parts of Cape Town, where gangsterism and drug abuse are the norm. The project enables them to consider totally different and wonderful ways in which they can develop careers in the future,” Van Rensburg explained.
● Check out the Zip Zap YouTube channel to find out more; visit www.facebook.com/zipzapcircus or www.zip-zap.co.za or contact 021 421 8622.
For many children a trip to the circus is a pipe dream. The Zip Zap Circus is changing this, one child at a time, with its Second Chance Project.
Lyle Lambrechts has fun on the trapeze, assisted by Zip Zap instructor Masixole Mbambatho.