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Clown Around With The Circus Project

You’d expect volleyball, football and running the mile in gym class, but what about juggling, plate spinning, or riding a unicycle? For the past 30 years, The National Circus Project has been challenging typical notions of what gym class is by bringing skilled, trained circus artists into schools for performances and week-long workshops.

Every year, the Westbury-based nonprofit goes into approximately 350 public and private schools all over the northeast. They have previously visited the Floral Park Public Library and Our Lady of Victory School in Floral Park.

Teams of expert circus artists will come into a physical education class for either a day or week-long workshop. Students get a front row seat to a demonstration by experienced performers, as well as hands-on experience with traditional circus skills such as juggling, wire walking and acrobatics. Students in the week-long workshop get to perfect a specific skill and flaunt it in a show for family members at the end of the week.

The National Circus Project allows students of all ages to experience the grandeur of the circus in a very personal way. Executive Director Greg Milstein says that as students engage in these individualized and self-motivating activities, they have the ability to have near-instant success.

“With a student who is normally frustrated or thinks they could never do a circus skill, we create this immediate success and in five minutes they’re juggling or walking on stilts and have this incredible motivational experience,” Milstein said. “And they generalize these feelings of achievement to other areas of their life.”

Milstein says this can be life-changing, as it gives all kids, not just the star athletes, the chance to master a physical technique they may have only seen in movies or on stage.

“Kids that don’t normally participate or excel physically can work at their own pace. And in that individualized moment, those kids tend to excel and go far beyond what you’d expect,” Milstein said. “And instantly they get applause and cheers, and even the shy kids or ones who are the last to get picked on the team get to be the star in the show. It’s so powerful and you get to see how these kids are moved by the experience of getting that positive reinforcement and having the community embrace them.”

Not only does the program give kids confidence as they get the chance to shine, but it brings students together in what Milstein calls “the breakfast club” effect.

“Kids who wouldn’t normally interact with each other are in the same group and the energy and excitement of making this happen brings them together,” he said. “The team building effect is very powerful.”

On any given Friday in the spring, five tri-state area schools will be putting on their own three-ring circus shows. Milstein notes that one of the most common reactions to a student show is surprise from parents and school staff as how a child will change over the course of the program. The shyest kid in school takes center stage as the ringmaster, and a troubled kid works hard and comes to school every day to maintain their place in the performance. “Kids will rise to the occasion,” Milstein says.

Over six million kids have come through the National Circus Project in the last 30 years and Milstein says they’ve started to work with the children of people who have come through the program when they were kids.

“We’re part of the community on Long Island,” Milstein said. “I have adults approach me and tell me how much they enjoyed the experience when they were in school. It’s something they remember.”

Find out more about the National Circus Project at www.nationalcircusproject.com

News

The Floral Park Recreation Summer 2014 programs have now reached their half way point. While youngsters still have four more weeks of camps and activities, the night time volleyball and basketball programs are now gearing up for their final push to the playoff and championship rounds. Of the 55 adult teams competing, only Madness and Chaos (B league basketball) and Poppy’s (Women’s competitive volleyball) have managed to move through the season without a blemish on their records. Playoffs for volleyball are on Aug. 6 and Aug. 7, while basketball quarterfinals begin Thursday, July 31. Family, friends and spectators are always welcome. Good luck to all teams and players during their quest to become Floral Park’s Champions of the Summer of 2014.

As in past years, the Floral Park Recreation Department sprinkled in some expert instruction along with the recreational format of the various camps. Many thanks go out to Lisa O’Grady (OLV volleyball coach) for presenting an excellent volleyball clinic for our beginning junior players. Once again, Nassau Community College football Coach Ed Mack and his players have volunteered their time to give a few pointers for all youngsters grades 4 and above on Wednesday, June 30. The junior football clinic kicks off at 8:30 a.m., while senior campers (grades 7 and above) will receive instruction beginning at 10 a.m. Some features will include pass and catch techniques and NFL style agility drills. All Floral Park youth entering grades 4 and above are invited to attend. At that same time, Chris Schneider, outstanding and championship basketball coach at both St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart, will be on hand to present a comprehensive basketball clinic for both our junior and senior future female basketball stars.

The 36th annual Thunderbird American Indian Mid-Summer Pow-Wow will be held at the Queens County Farm Museum from Friday, July 25 through Sunday, July 27. It is the longest-running American Indian Pow-Wow and will feature three days of inter-tribal Native American Dance Competitions.

More than 40 Indian nations will be represented. Chanting, drumming and brilliantly-colored, finely-detailed regalia will provide stimulating entertainment for people of all ages. All dance competitions and performances will be narrated for your appreciation of the rich tradition and culture that is being shared. American Indian art and craft vendors will offer a unique array of times for shoppers.


Calendar

Theatre Box

Friday, August 1

E-Cycling Collection

Saturday, August 2

Floral Park Board of Trustees

Tuesday, August 5



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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