Circus Arts program
The Circus Arts class, started in 2006, is the oldest of Performing Life’s projects and forms the heart of the organization’s mission. In these classes we give free tutelage on different types of performing arts, including juggling, unicycle riding, diabolo, and poi.
One key aim of the Circus Arts classes is to teach youth skills that will increase their coordination and concentration as well as develop their self-esteem and self-determination. At the same time, the skills participants gain provide them with a way to support themselves and/or their families in fewer hours than was previously possible. This means participants have more time to focus on other areas of their lives such as attending school and studying, spending time with their families, and other pro-social activities.
For those participants who stay with the classes long enough, the third aim is to give participants a chance to become part of our performance troupe, where they will have the opportunity to share their skills with the public while earning money through regular, paid shows. They may also benefit economically by becoming Circus Arts instructors for future Performing Life classes, thus obtaining stable, and meaningful, employment.
All participants in the Circus Arts program have substantially developed their juggling skills, and those who have attended the program longer have developed more advanced techniques as well as acting skills. The value of juggling is not only in its artistic nature; all participants have also shown improvements in their ability to concentrate and to work cooperatively with others. Furthermore, participants have improved their math skills and increased their self-esteem, which are other important areas for the development of any person. They have also shown marked improvement in their behavior at school, in their family life, and in their social relationships.
Bracelet Microenterprise Program
The Bracelet Microenterprise Program is a project of Hope for the Children Foundation (HFC) funded through sales of bracelets made by youth and families who are regular participants in Fundación EnseñARTE’s social circus and music programs.
Youth invest their earnings in sustainable projects that support the physical, social, and economic well being of themselves and their families, such as:
- educational expenses, including uniforms and books;
- purchasing land and authenticating ownership;
- building safe and healthy homes;
- connecting to public utility systems, such as water and natural gas;
- enlarging and improving existing homes;
- acquiring land and homes;
- starting various types of small businesses.
The rungs on the ladder out of grinding poverty are land ownership, a safe and healthy home, education, and microenterprise. Youth in the bracelet microenterprise program no longer work on the streets, regularly attend school at grade level, have improved living conditions, and are physically and mentally healthier than they were before joining Performing Life. Based on our home visits and interviews, these improvements are a result of dedication to education, improved living and economic conditions, and having a safety net to meet emergencies. With a more stable life, youth can imagine a future with hope for realizing their dreams.
The Music Program began in 2008 with a rudimentary recording studio in a closet. The project evolved to work with hundreds of youth recording more than 6 complete albums, producing a series of music video, and staging many free concerts throughout Cochabamba. In 2014 we lacked funding to successfully run the program, but in 2016 the program will start up again with the plan to set up 3-4 outreach classes working with over 30 youth in different locations around Cochabamba. The project’s focus will be initially on starting a Professional Recording Studio, which will finance music related activities with youth.
The Music Program offers classes in piano, guitar, bass, percussion instruments, Bolivian folklore instruments, singing and music theory. The Music Program also offers songwriting classes for music in the styles of hip-hop, pop, and rock. With the Performing Life recording studio, we can professionally record songs written by the Music Program participants, as well as teach the fundamentals of sound engineering and recording to some of the older participants.
Performing Life’s Music Project gives youth a creative vehicle for sharing their stories, hopes, and dreams with the public. Their work has earned them respect and recognition from top music professionals in the region. Some of the youth who lived on the street and experienced so much discrimination, say that, through their music, they feel empowered and heard by society.
The Education Support Program, started in 2013, is an entirely volunteer-run program. Performing Life is convinced that excellent education is one of the basic human needs. Unfortunately, most youth in Bolivia report lack of attention from classroom teachers, negative learning environments, and regular corporeal punishment. The Education Program is designed to help youth broaden their horizons, to become global citizens with knowledge of the outside world and all it has to offer. The program seeks to fill gaps left by the often poor Bolivian educational system to build a life-long love of self-directed learning.
Integral Health program
This program is managed with technical assistance from local NGOs that provide specialized outreach and medical care in different areas, such as regular checkups to improve overall health. Youth go to the dentist, receive sexual education courses, and other workshops aimed at preventing disease and future health problems. As we help more families and youth improve their health and sanitation, we seek volunteers who have worked extensively with approaches that are culturally relevant, engage the whole person, and connect families with local resources for improving health outcomes.
The Scholarship Program was formalized in 2015 and offers opportunities for the most dedicated youth to attain a higher education either nationally or internationally. Youth commit to helping PL by being assistant instructors; in exchange, PL helps them access opportunities to go to college, study, and become a professional in a field of their choice. Building leaders is an investment for all of us in the future of the world.