The Beginners Programme was established in 2009, to provide a foundational circus programme for children between the ages of 7 and 12.

This recreational programme takes place once per week, on Saturday mornings for 1,5 hours, during which time children are encouraged to attempt a variety of circus skills, and to play and learn together. The primary aims are for children to develop a basic level of circus skills, and for children from various backgrounds to experience the value of working and playing together. Through their weekly engagement, they develop a sense of belonging, a willingness to learn new skills and enjoy the rewards of positive social interactions.

Youth Programme - Beginners
Youth Programme - Beginners

IMPACT

The programme started later than scheduled, on 20 March 2021, as a direct result of COVID-19 restrictions, with the country being on risk-adjusted Level 3 until 28 February 2021. The planned schedule was interrupted, and the programme was suspended with the imposition of adjusted risk Level 2 effective 31 May 2021, followed by adjusted risk Level 3 effective 16 June 2021 and adjusted risk Level 4 effective 28 June 2021. The programme recommenced on 21 August 2021. When the programme resumed, participants had to be divided into 4 groups to ensure the health and safety of all, thus each participant was only able to attend 1 session per month. From 19 September, with the move to adjusted risk Level 2 effective 13 September 2021, participants were divided into 2 groups and were able to attend sessions on alternate weeks. The effects of the pandemic also impacted negatively on consistent attendance at the programme throughout the year. Despite the demands of school, extra-mural activities and family responsibilities the programme still had an attendance rate of 63%. There was also an increase in the numbers of participants who joined during the year. Both of these underpin the therapeutic value of circus to help the participants cope with the restrictions and feelings of isolation experienced during the pandemic.

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A Rising Star

Ella Ronquest-Ross

Ella Ronquest-Ross is an 11-year-old Grade 5 learner at Camps Bay Primary School. She joined the Beginners programme in 2019 after having seen a performance at Kronendal primary School. Through the programme she was introduced to the aerial disciplines, specifically lyra and silks/scarf. She was quote excited to share information about circus and Zip Zap with her school friends. The friends she has made in the programme, her instructors and being able to do amazing aerial tricks are great sources of excitement for Ella. One of her fondest memories of being a participant in the Beginners programme is “pulling off my new routine in our garden with my favourite soundtrack blasting from my mom’s phone”! She counts her coach, Liya, and some of the Zappers participants among her role models at Zip Zap, and she dreams of continuing with circus training and performing on stage. She will be moving to Australia at the end of 2021 but she has already confirmed that there is a social circus near her new home, which she is keen to join!

Ella is the deserving recipient of the Shining Star Award at the 2021 Show & Tell performance, for displaying outstanding performance in skill, talent and technique in the Beginners programme!

It made me so proud. It was such a

nice feeling after all my hard

practice.”

– Ella Ronquest-Ross

For more information on how to join one of our programmes, email youth@zip-zap.co.za

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