“Jump Start” for youth at risk

Jump Start is a Warehouse Circus initiative aiming to address the needs of young people at risk of entering the youth justice system. Jump Start aims to offer circus to young people from a disadvantaged background and engage them through early intervention in collaboration with their local school communities. The program not only adheres to the vision and values of Warehouse Circus, but also to those outlined in the Canberra Plan and Youth Justice Blue Print 2012-2022 goals.

Our Pilot Program successfully began in 2014 with schools in West Belconnen, funded through ACT Health Innovative Funding. We now have funding through the Telstra Kids Fund grant will take us into the next stage of our program in early 2016. We hope to secure further funding to continue this important program into the future

Jump Start is targeted for young people 10-14 years old, ideally in Years 5 or 6 who are soon to be exiting primary school. The weekly circus classes are hosted in the high school of the young people’s choosing and are collaboratively lead by a trainer, and socially supported by the school’s youth-workers. The students are also encouraged to teach and learn from each other. These young people develop trust and ability through circus, while learning about the culture of their high school and building positive relationships with their mentors and youth workers. This can give the students more social options and sometimes increase their capacity to make new friendships in the future. As young people attending school is one of the strongest protective factors in reducing their risk to commence crime, we believe in supporting their belonging and attachment to high school as early as possible and providing an environment for a smooth transition from primary school.

The benefits recorded and observed so far in the Jump Start program are multi-faceted. Young people report a greater sense of belonging to their new school, feel they are supported as individuals and are more confident socially. They have themselves noticed the benefits of being rewarded when working hard at a task they previously had no experience in – an awareness which then becomes transferable to other facets of their school and personal life. ;Mentors benefit from their leadership roles, feel more respected and have greater self-confidence, and the circus trainers have benefited in collaborating with the youth workers and assisting in the students’ progress in their self-development. Teachers and welfare staff notice improvements in the student’s scholastic achievements and a smoother transition into their high school.

Warehouse Circus plan to develop the Jump Start program until 2020, by which time we will have produced a manual on how to run the program, what to expect from it and how to make sustainable partnerships with community and schools to support young people to belong to their communities. We hope this manual will be adopted by the wider circus community, both within Australia and within the growing global social circus movement.

In order to ensure the Jump Start program can develop and is sustainable into the future, we need to work as teams in cross-sector partnerships. Jump Start produces the best individual and community outcomes when we combine Warehouse Circus strengths with those from our schools and partners as well as of course the relationships and strengths from the students.

We are happy to meet up with schools and community organisations and start partnerships to deliver Jump Start in your community. Please contact the Warehouse Circus office to get involved.

See for yourself!

Want to learn more about our Jump Start program? Click here to watch our short film “Social Perspectives”!