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  • Writer's pictureWeAre1 Chicago


CircEsteem is an organization that is committed to uniting the youth of different backgrounds and identities through programs that promote self-esteem and mutual respect through the practice and performance of circus arts.

The Beginning

In 2001, retired Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey clown, Paul Miller, founded CircEsteem to create a space for children who desired to build self-esteem and be a part of a safe, diverse community while learning circus arts. Within a short amount of time, his mission proved to be successful, as CircEsteem worked with more than 750 children throughout Chicago through academic enrichment, mentoring, and in-school arts enrichment programming by early 2017. Ultimately, CircEsteem's dedication to Chicago's youth for over half a decade has earned them the title of Chicago's most unique social circus programming for children in Chicago.

Their Work

In CircEsteem's programs, youth are encouraged "to build personal development and leadership skills such as self-esteem and teamwork through the training of circus arts utilizing social circus methodology". Their social circus combines a social intervention approach and circus arts to invoke social change in society. Moreover, by focusing on at-risk groups and underserved youth, this organization highlights the more positive aspects of the world by assisting members with personal and social development. By doing this, CircEsteem acts as a "powerful catalyst for creating social change" by helping marginalized youth find their voices and talents and use them to enrich their community. Thus, CircEsteem is a wonderful example of an organization that is truly rooted in uplifting children through social and creative endeavors. To learn more about their values and programs, check them out here:

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