We have partnered with SOS Children’s Villages Canada and SOS Children’s Villages South Africa in an exciting new project designed to complement their existing Family Strengthening programme (FSP). This 24-month social circus project will benefit 30 at-risk children per year living in Philippi.
The Philippi area is a low-income settlement that faces serious development challenges, such as escalating gangsterism, food insecurity and substance abuse. Children growing up in the area face neglect, physical and psychological abuse as well as domestic and community violence. The Phillipi community thus provides limited opportunities for children to reach their full potential, and few get the chance to leave the township.
The Family Strengthening Programme (FSP) was launched in Philippi in 2012 to provide support to vulnerable children and their families – empowering them with the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty.
The Siyazama programme will complement the existing FSP and aims to provide these 30 children with opportunities to overcome trauma and develop the skills to thrive. Participants will be divided into two gender-balanced groups of up to 15. The first one for children 8 – 12 years old and the second one for children aged 13-17.
Each group will attend circus workshops twice a month, on alternating weeks, at the Zip Zap Academy. In total four social circus semesters will take place over two years. At the end of each semester and each year, participants will produce a ‘Show and Tell’, that allows them to work towards a common goal, showcase their achievements and celebrates their successes.
Zip Zap has successfully partnered with SOS Children’s Villages in Thornton, Cape Town, since 2015 in our Jumpstreet programme. Social Circus projects are facilitated by trained social circus instructors who guide participants through workshops and group discussions and are tailored specifically to vulnerable children. Previous Social Circus workshops held have yielded measurable improvements in resilience, decreased social isolation, and supported the development of healthy relationships for marginalized children.
Former beneficiaries have developed life-skills such as self-confidence, trust, interpersonal skills and teamwork. Skills that are all vital for academic success, healthy relationships and future employability.
This project incorporates Cirque du Soleil’s Cirque du Monde methodology and is funded by the Varico Foundation and Cirque du Soleil.
The programme successfully completed the first year of this 2-year programme, and reinforced the therapeutic value of circus. 27 children, aged between 8 and 17 years, participated in this programme which was specifically designed to help them cope with challenging personal and socio-economic circumstances. The spirit of the Siyazama programme, which means “we are trying”, was truly visible in the results observed. There was a marked increase in the levels of engagement (61%) of the children throughout the duration of the programme and this was evident in the enthusiasm they displayed to participate in activities and their willingness to try new things. Physical assessments, completed 3 times during the programme year, confirmed that the children had become physical stronger through their participation in the programme, and these results also helped to inform programme content to ensure that objectives were met. There were marked improvements in the levels of teamwork (55%) as the children displayed more comfort working together in partner- and group activities. All the children reported having had fun during the programme! Zip Zap values – Accountability, Family, Honesty, Joy and Respect – are at the heart of all we do, and the children displayed good improvement (62%) in displaying these qualities. Improvements in pro-social behaviours were also noted with all the children making new friends and forging healthy relationships within the group.
The children improved in confidence, and this was very obvious from their performances at the Siyazama Show & Tell event in August 2022, with international and national guests in the audience representing the programme funder based in Canada, SOS Children’s Villages, Canada and SOS Children’s Villages, South Africa.
The participants’ sense of belonging was amplified when they also performed at the Zip Zap Programmes Show & Tell in October 2022 along with their peers from 5 other youth and outreach programmes!
“For the past 29 years we have seen stars in the eyes of all children entering Zip Zap. That ‘spark’ is what we work for, to ensure it continues shining until they become independent, caring, responsible adults. It is worth cultivating because only once each child knows their worth will (s)he be on the path to growth. We have seen many times that participation in our programmes overcomes low self-esteem, anger, frustration, despair, and rejection. More than 15,000 young people have gone through that process with us over 29 years.”
– Zip Zap Co-founders
A Shining Star
Asenathi Skuni joined the Zip Zap Siyazama (“we are trying”) programme in September 2021. She was selected to join the programme as an extension of the SOS Children’s Villages Family Strengthening Programme.
Her favourite activity, and the discipline she believes she is best at, is the mini-trampoline. Her wish is to be stronger and more flexible. She has so many good memories since she joined Zip Zap. She has made a good friend in Emihle and has identified Zip Zap instructor, Regan, as her role model.
Asenathi is diligent and works very hard to deliver her best. Her efforts (at displaying outstanding performance in technique and creativity during the programme year) were rewarded when she was recognized with the Shining Star Award in the Siyazama programme at the Zip Zap Programmes Show & Tell event in October 2022.
If there is one thing in the world Asenathi could change it would be get rid of inequality in the world so that all people have equal access to riches. Her wish is to be successful in all that she does.