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Roll up. Roll up. Join a circus class

Circus Ipswich president Dr Meg Hooper, students Ava, 12, and Matilda Matthews, 9, Eleanor Bond, 12 and lead trainer Vanessa Thomas.

Circus is for everybody.

That is the message Circus Ipswich president Dr Meg Hooper wants to tell the community.

“We are a non-competitive, not-for-profit circus school. We want to bring the joy of circus to our city,” Dr Hooper said.

“Circus is a really empowering tool for communities. You might have a child who struggles to fit into mainstream sports, circus provides a space where they can belong, there is something for everyone. It’s not just about tricks.”

After receiving a lot of enquiries from parents whose children were diagnosed on the autism Spectrum, they designed a class specifically for these children, called Umbrella Circus.

The program was designed by occupational therapists, circus trainers and a psychologist. Umbrella Circus kicked off after receiving funding from the Regional Arts Development Fund, which is a partnership between Ipswich City Council and the Queensland Government.

“We encourage our students to be daring,” Dr Hooper said.

“Take on a challenge and do something daring. It might be juggling, twirling, climbing, hanging or balancing, it is their choice.

“Safety is also our priority, we use safety equipment and all the staff have blue cards and first aid training.

“We also want people to belong, so we encourage each other and cheer each other on. There is nothing quite like building resilience through building skills and having a crew or a crowd cheering you on is an amazing experience.”

Dr Hooper came to circus as an adult right when she needed it most.

“I was a new mum and I wanted to do something creative and physical. I tried the circus training centre in the Valley and literally fell in love with it. It saved me. I was doing my PhD at the time and I would sit there and dream about circus.  It kept me sane,” she said.

“I started Circus Ipswich because there was nowhere local to do circus.

“Our head trainer Vanessa Thomas, who I didn’t know at the time, called me up and said ‘I love circus as much as you do and I live at Ipswich too’.

“We decided to grow our own trainers for the future, so we have two trainees now also.”

Circus Ipswich is now building the community that Dr Hooper dreamed of, so if running off to join the circus is something that appeals, you can do just that, right here in Ipswich.

Circus Ipswich is holding an open day on Sunday 3 February at the Ipswich Central State School hall, 2A Griffith Road, Ipswich. Find out what they are all about between 10am to 11.30am.

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