Motivation: Circus Mojo-Style

Three different gigs all in the same day for three unique audiences…  The first a public school, the second, a spring carnival in a medical setting, and the third, one of a 12 week series for wards of the state. Mood Disorder, PTSD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, Reactive Explosive Disorder, Reactive Detachment Disorder. Physical and sexual abuse victims, “The Saddest Boy in the World.” are some of the diagnosis’ for this last group.

#1 May 9 we performed for more than 600 kids at Ft Wright Elementary for the “Greatest Scores On Earth” Pre-testing motivational assembly with the children from FT Wright’s Circus Mojo classes. The day before we offered a similar show for the student of Beechwood Schools.

Motivation, Circus Mojo, juggling, walking globe

From 600+ public school kids to 50 kids in a psyche unit, to 12 wards of the state, circus is a tool for motivation and connection.

Our second event of the day was for the Spring Carnival at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Psychiatric Unit in North College Hill where we offered a bit of performance and hands-on opportunities for success. To see a teenage girl learn to spin a plate with cuts and burns all over the arm she was using was an amazing sight to behold. When I say amazing, I mean it was profound to see a girl who had inflicted these wounds to her own body, behaving with such delight after learning how to spin a plate. It went beyond a “trick” and even better, this person happened to form a bond with her teacher, Sharon Alvarez Miller. (Sharon learned many circus skills in Mexico and has been working with Circus Mojo for more than a year. Our other staff members have been around the world performing on stage as well as for detention centers, enhancing the overall scope of experience needed to connect with this population.)

Our last event of the day was our third class with the young men from the Children’s Home of Northern KY (CHNK) or Chunk as they call themselves. The litany of syndromes and disorders at the top of this blog all came from the pre-session meeting with the staff. (We are hosting two twelve week sessions with CHNK and are working to track behavior and attitude progress) I share our biggest achievement with this group – there was a boy who was obstinate; HE DID NOT WANT TO PARTICIPATE! I cracked a few jokes hoping he would crack… but to no avail; it was just not working. A bit later, I was trying to get a song on my iPhone for the act and my phone froze, so I asked for his help. He was resistant at first, but then decided (albeit begrudgingly) that it looked like fun to help out with the tunes… “Maestro can you please rewind the song?” Then he did it. In the Circus Mojo way of engagement we choose the toughest people to work with and once they fall in love//line all others follow.

And please, don’t even get me started on the 21 OB/GYN third-year Residents we hosted for an all-day retreat. These folks had been one of the toughest events I’ve ever worked! Tune in next time to see how the Doctor’s gig went!

Paul Miller


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Filed under Backstage Stories, Our Common Humanity

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