With all the stories we hear on the news about bombs, war and diseases, we all too easily forget about the people in the world striving to do good and spread happiness.
With all the stories we hear on the news about bombs, war and diseases, we all too easily forget about the people in the world striving to do good and spread happiness. But we shouldn’t, because these people need our help to get their message heard.
Jenny Alexander is the founder and creator of Balloon Circus, a non-profit organisation that takes circus style classes around the world to educate and entertain children. This year, Jenny plans to take Balloon Circus on an eight-month road trip around Thailand, reaching over 1,000 children and giving them a play day that they’ll never forget.
I was lucky enough to be able to chat with Jenny about her project and why a small part of each of us wishes we could join the circus!
Tell us how you got started in circus performance and particularly with balloon animals. Was there anyone in particular who inspired you, or did you teach yourself the skills?
I started as an actor and fell in to walkabout characters, statues and stilt walking while I was auditioning. I was terrible at stilts, so chose a safer option, which were balloons. I learnt 4 things and then winged it on my fist gig!
It’s an unusual hobby, let alone career! Did you ever think you’d be building your living on it?
I didn’t have a clue, it was a big surprise to me when I found out how much you can earn, as it’s mostly corporate work.
How did Balloon Circus come about, and who helped you set it up?
It was my idea and at the moment it’s just me, with some good advice from friends. I do it when I’m in the UK and have done a few shows in Thailand already at some orphanages organized by friends, and it worked so well I thought I should try it full time.
We hear a lot about how children in Eastern countries need better food and health, but often forget that they’re also deprived of arts and entertainment. How will Balloon Circus be a different experience for these kids, and what skills will they learn from it?
There is help from other charities when it comes to donations and the essentials but everyone forgets that every child has the right to play and it really helps their development and confidence. We do circus workshops which helps with dexterity, concentration, trust and movement, including juggling, poi, plate spinning, acro balance and the balloons. We would like to leave a workshop pack in each place so they can carry on playing with it after we leave.
Is there any particular reason you’ve chosen Thailand and the children there?
At the moment I have been living in Thailand on and off for the last 14 years, so I know that they need and love the workshops as I have done some already. I can speak Thai and would like to start with where I know best first.
What kind of events will a play day for these children include?
We divide the children into manageable numbers and age groups so everyone has an average ability. We start by warming up with fun exercises and games that teach them our names, and us theirs. Then we teach them all the skills for each piece of equipment. After that, we make the balloons that they can keep and wear/ play with.
Not only are you offering out your time and teaching to underprivileged children, but you’re also offering out special treats to those people who donate! Tell us more about that.
So with the kick-starter, there are rewards for certain levels of donation. All of these rewards are on the page. Everyone who donates will have their name displayed on the Facebook page and the website when it is completed, and then listed as one of our sponsors on stage while we are performing. There is also a free tutorial on Skype from me on how to make some balloons!
After this trip is completed, where else are you planning to take Balloon Circus? What’s your dream destination?
I’m hoping to go to Japan, as there are over 300 orphanages there. My dream after that, if we get enough sponsors, is to do workshops in South America and Africa and start training people up to keep it on a roll.
If you’d like to donate to Balloon Circus and help make possible one extra special day for a thousand orphaned children, please follow the link below. For every pledge you make, you’ll get a special bonus from Jenny, including a balloon tutorial, T-shirts and more.
Make a child smile in a unique, diverse and different way. Donate today!