Dozens of children and young people joined in the Day of Fun last Saturday, coming from different parts of the city with one common purpose. They juggled, played and had fun together, highlighting their achievements and celebrating the power of circus to postively impact on their lives.
A highlight of the 2015-2016 Social Circus Yangon project, the Day of Fun brought circus skills teams together for the first time. They come from different backgrounds and have faced different challenges in their young lives, but they have a few things in common; the ability to toss a diablo, spin a plate, keep juggling balls in the air and balance on stilts or unicycles for a start.
Surmounting logistical and financial challenges, Serious Fun trainer Jules Howarth, who has been running regular workshops with the teams since December, set up the Day of Fun on Burma’s historic Children’s day, February 13. It was a a day of skills-sharing, humour and fun held in the lush garden of the home of British Council head Kevin Mackenzie and his wife Alex, on the shore of Yangon’s picturesque Inya Lake.
“Jules is making memories and building self-esteem over the long term, it’s not just a one-off day of fun. These young people are seeing themselves progress, which is a gift denied the disadvantaged too often.” – Alex Mackenzie.
Noisy, excited, happy children from the teams at Scholarships for Street Kids, the Karen Hostel at Taung Thu Gone, Thanlyin Boys’ Training Center and Eden Center for Disabled Children joined with the young men from Helping Hands and the Circus4All team for games and workshops, filling the air with laughter and inspiration.
Circus4All founding member Phoe Kae Ko, one of the participants in our training of trainers week with adaptive circus specialist Thomas Hinz in Yangon last May, was delighted to take part in a spinning plate workshop.
“Plate & Stick is the game I can perform best, and it is a pleasure to teach it to the kids on Children’s Day,” – Phoe Kae Ko
Day of Fun Presentations
The workshops were followed by presentations when team members, alone or in small groups, shared their skills in front of invited guests. It’s a process they’re familiar with from the weekly workshops and they weren’t phased by the presence of a bigger audience than usual. Their focus, concentration and confidence were all on display. The kids charmed and impressed the audience.
“What will I take away with me from the day? Watching a boy on stage (from Eden Center for Disabled Children) throw and drop his juggling club four or more times. It was memorable for the number of close calls, the club bouncing off his wrist, and his resolve to catch it, which of course he did. The audience erupted into applause, because we know how difficult that was – we’d tried it that day too!” – Alex Mackenzie.
Thanks to people backing the project in Yangon, including the British Council, City Mart supermarket, 100 Plus drinks and the hard-working Serious Fun volunteers, along with the people around the world who supported the StartSomeGood crowdfunding campaign, the teams experienced a children’s day they’ll always remember.
Day of Fun comments
“The day was wonderfully organised. From the large (the drinks sponsors brought a massive ice chest and tents to keep us cool) to the small (medical kit for the inevitable scratches – when you’re looking up at your hoops you don’t always remember to look down at your feet). Of course the most important people were the participants, who were guaranteed to do what was expected of them – have fun continuing to develop their circus skills, meet other workshop teens like themselves and perform at the end of the day. Their enthusiasm was clear from start to finish.” – Alex Mackenzie
“Being part of the DoF/SF was a really great experience for myself, but more importantly for the children. From the kids who were doing absurdly complicated tricks to the ones who were learning to catch, every single one of them was actively learning and working together. It’s a holistic educator’s dream!” – Ewan Cameron
“There was a moment which blew my mind. One boy used his gestures asking me to hold him onto a unicycle. Each of us was handicapped in own way; his disability and my weak Burmese speaking. These questions popped up; ‘Had he done this before? How long before he will get bored?’ ‘Could he finally ride this unicycle? etc.’ But his eagerness and laughter turned my frustration into really being with him; no matter if he failed or not. To trust someone and to be trusted are crucial to develop one’s confidence to reach his/her full potential and to have courage for being out of comfort zone. Thank you for this trust, that taught me an essence of fun, it has no boundaries. ” – Usasinee Rewthong
“I’m very glad to see the children participating on that day because almost all the children here don’t have much activities outside of their studies. By doing so, I’m sure that they have improved their self-confidence and social skills.” – Zin Zin