I’ve been volunteering for as long as I can remember. My parents and teachers instilled this value into my habits from a young age. In fact, I learned to face paint, twist balloon animals, and practice my juggling and magic skills as a teenager at various charity events while growing up. I even wore one of those mascot suits a couple times for the local “Children’s Fund”, and took photoswith people as a duck! Now, as a professional family entertainer in the San Francisco Bay Area, I look for ways to volunteer with Silly Circus Show.
I chose to work with the San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit “Bread and Roses Presents” in 2016. “Bread & Roses Presents” is a nonprofit arts organization with a human services mission that brings hope, healing and joy through live music and the performing arts to children, adults and seniors who are disadvantaged, marginalized, or otherwise isolated in diverse institutional settings in the San Francisco Bay Area. https://www.breadandroses.org/
It wasn’t until I started volunteering for Bread & Roses, and occasionally the Medical Clown Project, that I learned about the healing power of the arts. Art and music are a catalyst for positive change. The Mental Health Foundation says that “engaging in arts, social activities and interaction within our communities can help with major challenges such as ageing and loneliness. … Besides these benefits, art engagement also alleviates anxiety, depression and stress”.
Bread & Roses says that “among the many things confined individuals lack is access to the healing power of the arts. Most of the individuals in our audiences have no opportunity other than through a Bread & Roses performance to experience the unique, restorative sensation of being lifted beyond oneself that is possible through the performing arts.” (https://www.breadandroses.org/audiences)
I had the pleasure to bring Silly Circus Show to “Aprendiendo Juntos” in San Rafael, CA last month. The Aprendiendo Juntos (“Learning Together”) provides child development services to young children who lack access to preschool as well as education and support services for parents. Parent Services Project provides free, weekly playgroups to families in the Canal neighborhood in San Rafael, CA and in Pt. Reyes.
The audience was a small group of young Spanish speaking children about 3-6 years old. I tried to use my limited Spanish language skills, and between their basic English, and my basic Spanish, we were able to laugh and laugh! The Silly Circus Show is based around physical comedy, juggling, and magic, which are universally understood by almost every culture.
I love to make kids laugh with Silly Circus Show! And once they start, sometimes they don’t stop. I hear over and over again from parents… “I’ve never heard my kid laugh so hard”. Laughing is good for you! Believe it or not, laughter actually induces physical changes in the body. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.” We can all agree that laughing improves your mood and relaxes you.
Practicing juggling, magic tricks, face painting, and twisting balloon animals has always brought me joy. Not only am I able to express my creativity, but I can share it with other people. When I learned how to juggle as a teenager, I knew I had found something special. Juggling was interesting, engaging, and it built my self confidence. I could see myself getting better at the tricks, and it was a way to escape the pressures of high school. I didn’t know it then, but juggling was going to change my life. And hopefully, I can positively affect other lives too, if only for a moment in time, while watching Silly Circus Show.