"I believe my years as a youth circus performer have given me confidence to achieve success in college and beyond.”
–Grace Schwarzer, Circus Youth in Action alum
My Nose Turns Red is the only non-profit organization in the Greater Cincinnati area dedicated to youth circus. Every year, they offer year-round training and performance opportunities for over 400 youths in the art of the one-ring circus. Since 1997, they’ve offered the Circus Youth in Action development program, where students from 13-18 years of age meet for one hour every week to create acts, engage audiences and encourage their peers to try new skills.
Participating students plan and produce events like the charity event Circ-A-Thon. They help with after-school summer camps, perform for the community and conduct circus workshops for the public. After each event, they take time to reflect on their experiences. This year, four students of Circus Youth in Action will graduate high school, including Grace Schwarzer, who has been involved in the program for ten years.
While a few MNTR students have chosen to pursue circus as a career, Grace plans to take a different path. That doesn’t mean she hasn’t found enormous value in her experiences. She wrote in her college essay, "I am not going to be a professional juggler or clown or silks acrobat. But I believe my years as a youth circus performer have given me confidence to achieve success in college and beyond.”
Through the performative arts in the circus and the encouragement and support of her peers, Grace has learned to can walk a wire without falling, jump rope on a unicycle and even climb silks to the ceiling and perform twists and twirls. Her accomplishments gave her a unique perspective heading into college.
Stories like Grace’s are typical for students of the Circus Youth in Action Program, where kids learn not just circus arts, but self-confidence and creativity. They focus on encouragement and support, creating a safe, non-competitive environment where every child can explore their skills. These skills translate into the academic sphere as well, showing how powerful the arts can be as a way to fuel creativity and learning.