Simunye (“we are one”) formed in 1992 and is the heart of Zip Zap’s circus school, bringing children from outreach and youth streams together to learn, to create, and to work towards common goals such as creating and performing acts.

The programme strives to instill the core values of Zip Zap through social cohesion, discipline and teamwork. With a more focused approach to learning and developing circus skills, and increased physical demands, participants commit to two weekly sessions, reaping the benefits from investing more time and training. Simunye is also the reservoir for potential candidates for Dare2Dream, Zip Zap’s full-time vocational training programme.

Youth Programme - Simunye
Youth Programme - Simunye

IMPACT

A safe and familiar training space allows for participants to play, train, learn, collaborate and create together! Children display improvements in physical fitness and higher-level circus skills. These regular interactions encourage pro-social behaviours and ensure participants benefit from improved interpersonal skills. There is also a visible increase in levels of optimism and confidence, which contribute to improved goal setting and decision-making.

Because the programme is not age-specific, older, more experienced participants begin to emerge as role-models to the younger, less experienced ones. There are also valuable lessons to be learned about the possibilities and opportunities that circus and the performing arts offer, like travel, technical skills and performing. Participants perform in the annual “Show and Tell”, demonstrating their skills and showmanship.

The Simunye programme started later than scheduled, on 19 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 2 groups to ensure the health and safety of all, thus each participant was only able to attend 2 sessions per month. From 18 September, with the move to adjusted risk Level 2 effective 13 September 2021, participants were able to train as an intact group again, maintaining strict COVID-19 protocols under the supervision of the instructors. 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 maintained an attendance rate of 71% and retention rate of 98%. Both of these measures support the therapeutic value of circus to help the participants cope with the restrictions, feelings of isolation and anxiety experienced during the pandemic.

Sessions

Beneficiaries

Instructors

Advanced to Zappers

Accepted into Dare2Dream

Sponsors

A Shining Star

Candice Mondera

Candice Mondera worked especially hard throughout the programme year and truly distinguished herself with her performance of the aerial net at the Show & Tell event. She has been identified as a possible candidate to be invited to join the Zappers programme.
Candice’s hard work, outstanding performance in skill, talent and technique was recognised when she was awarded the Shining Star Award in the Simunye programme at the 2021 Show & Tell performance.
9 Participants were invited to join the Zappers programme.

There are also participants who aspire to join the D2D programme, and they are very motivated by the success of their peers! 1 Participant was successful in her application to join D2D in 2022.

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

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