Circus For Wellbeing
Bridges is an avid advocate of the arts as a means of providing accessible wellbeing programs and offering communities an opportunity to share their stories.
Bridges offers support to young people and families through their Family Mental Health Support Service with offices in Gayndah and Kingaroy and outreach across the Burnett region. Feedback from our team working in the Burnett was that young people needed something in the school holidays to engage them socially and physically.
We approached Flipside Circus, Queensland’s largest youth focused arts organisation, who offer circus training programs across Queensland.
So why is a mental health service organisation supporting a circus workshop program to tour the region you might ask?
Circus training and performing is a fantastic way of maintaining physical and mental wellbeing. There is a wealth of academic and scientific research that has been conducted in Australia and internationally that demonstrates the wellbeing benefits of participating in circus. Circus skills includes a variety of acrobatics (including tumbling, balancing and trampoline), juggling, aerials (such as trapeze, silks and lyra) and hoops as experienced in the recent Flipside Circus workshops.
Research conducted by the University of South Australia in 2019, analysing the experiences of 55 participants in a children’s (aged 8-14 years) circus school program, demonstrated that there were significant improvements in the young people’s mental wellbeing; particularly stress relief, self-esteem, confidence and socialisation. The study showed that there is a quantifiable social return from circus.
“Our research shows that for every dollar invested for a child in a circus training program, seven dollars are potentially saved in their future mental health costs,” said lead researcher Dr Richard McGrath.
This kind of early intervention, providing tools for young people to build resilience and understanding about wellbeing, is a key reason for Bridges investing further resources into the field of arts and health.
“Children reported that circus training helped them feel much better about themselves, both physically and mentally,” Dr McGrath says.
“They felt a greater sense of freedom, confidence and happiness, far less worry and stress than when they first started the program and reported feeling brave and proud of their achievements.”
Dr McGrath further states that interventions such as circus in the early to middle years of childhood, can set up positive lifelong cognitive development. This in turn helps to create healthier communities.
It is not just the science saying that circus is great for your wellbeing. You only need look at the faces of the workshop participants and families having fun together in this video link to see the impact.
This partnership with Flipside Circus has helped the Burnett community understanding different ways that activities can contribute to individual, family and community wellbeing. We worked with Councils, schools and community organisations to have over 500 participants in the program, building stronger relationships for future projects. It also lifted Bridges profile in seven rural communities with over 500 participants and greater awareness of our Burnett Family Mental Health service and what it can offer.