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The Salida Circus is providing much needed social stimulation through their online tutor program during the coronavirus pandemic known as COVID-19. At no cost, the circus is providing kids of all ages with a circus tutor to help them learn new tricks and continue to grow both in and outside of class.

Taylor Ebuna, 9, sends her unicycle progress to the Salida Circus tutor team. (Photo courtesy of Salida Circus)

Being inside is hard enough, but with no school, going through this quarantine as a kid provides even more of a challenge. Salida Circus’ CEO Jennifer Dempsey created the online circus tutor program to combat this boredom and give parents some much needed alone time.

On March 18 as the pandemic social distancing orders began,  Dempsey and her team decided to take action, forming the online circus resource.

“After three days of going ‘well what do we do? How do we keep our mission statement, which is creating community and personal development through circus training?’” said Dempsey. “This online circus tutor training came into vision.”

With almost 35 children signed up, each tutor is matched with four to six kids who they then video train with via Facetime, Zoom, or Messenger.  Sessions run from 15 to 30 minutes. The tutors keep logs of the kid’s progress and growth. This allows each child to have one-on-one time with their tutor.

Activities include unicycling, silks, diablo, trapeze, the rolling globe, trampolines exercises, juggling, contortion, acrobatics and more.

The main purpose of the online program is to keep the tutors and kids engaged, as well as to give the parents a break. Dempsey acknowledged that “it is challenging to keep kids occupied. While we’re all cooped up we need to stay active.”

Weston Decker, 6, practices contortion in his living room. (Photo courtesy of Salida Circus)

Not only does the online tutor program allow kids to be active in a unique way, but it also helps maintain social relationships and inclusion. Salida Circus hopes to match more kids, of all ages, to tutors.

“It’s more of a calling than a job. I’ve seen a lot of unique transformations on pretty deep levels. It makes me take a step back and appreciate it” Salida Circus’ training manager, Joe Loveck told Ark Valley Voice. “A large part of the work is social inclusion,” added Loveck.

Joan Loveck manages the equipment. She has graciously disinfected and distributed all of it. From unicycles to diablos, kids have access to all of their regular activities. Loveck went on to say “We want to continue to give them the opportunity to train.”

Circus Tutor Juliet Shaub conducts a virtual aerial lesson for Aubrey Franco, 5. Juliet meets with Aubrey a few times a week online to teach her new moves on silks that are rigged in her bedroom. (Photo courtesy of Salida Circus)

The Buena Vista coordinator, Laura Hart, has been highlighting past circus joy through videos. “We do a warmup called chicken fat. I have been combining footage from over the past year to get that warm nostalgic feeling at home” Hart explained to Ark Valley Voice.

Chinese pole and fitness instructor, Juliet Schaub, who focuses on the aerial side of the circus explained “most importantly we are keeping connected with our students. We can continue to develop our skills and techniques even though we can’t be in the same room together. I think it is hugely important now to stay connected.” Schaub added, “It’s like a big little family.”

Through this adaptation, Salida Circus is adding a glimmer of hope and a teaspoon of normalcy to these kids’ days while continuing to teach social inclusion.

Starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 4 the Salida Circus will put on The Salida Circus Social Distancing Extravaganza. To tune in streaming via Facebook live, or click the link here.

Attending Salida Circus performances is free to everyone, however, they greatly appreciate donations. To donate, visit  Salida Circus or follow them on Facebook.

This team of eight tutors is dedicated to keeping some normalcy in these kids’ lives. Salida Circus teaches kids more than just tricks. These kids learn important social skills and the ability to push themselves.

Henry Dempsey, 9, practices juggling with Circus tutor Joan Lobeck over Facebook. (Image courtesy of Salida Circus)