Trenton N.J. – The Roebling Wire Works building on South Clinton Avenue in Trenton was alive with activity this past Saturday, December 21, as youth and young adults from Trenton and the surrounding areas juggled rings, balanced on unicycles, and zipped through the historic warehouse on skateboards. The demonstration was part of the first-of-its-kind “Skate Circus” show organized by Freedom Skate Park and Trenton Circus Squad, two Trenton-based nonprofits that use skateboarding and circus arts to transform the hundred-year-old warehouse into a vibrant center of alternative recreation for the City’s youth.
“Providing kids in Trenton with safe, fun recreation activities is so important to building a stronger, healthier Trenton community. Trenton Circus Squad and Freedom are two of the most unique, exciting organizations not just in Trenton, but across New Jersey,” said Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora. “No other city has a free circus arts program or a free indoor skate park. Saturday’s show was an exciting display of not only Trenton youth’s skills, but also Trenton’s unique creative culture that is transforming our historic buildings into valuable community assets.”
Saturday’s show featured youth and young adults who participate in Trenton Circus Squad and Freedom Skate Park’s programs performing a wide variety of skills from the circus ring and the skate park. Each act in the four-part show incorporated both skateboarding and circus, with skaters swooping around jugglers, jumping between aerial performers, and soaring through German wheels.
“Skateboarding and circus arts have a lot in common. Both are unique activities that keep young people physically active while also teaching them important life lessons about thinking creatively, supporting one another, and setting goals for themselves,” said Trenton Circus Squad Executive Director Tom von Oehsen. “Working with Freedom to integrate skateboarding into our circus performance has been a great experience for the youth in our program. Not only are they getting the chance to expand their performance skills and build their confidence with a wider variety of acts, but they are also getting an opportunity to learn about skateboarding and try out another exciting alternative recreation activity."
Although this was the first time Freedom and Trenton Circus Squad had performed together, the groups have a history of collaboration. The partnership began last winter, when Freedom Freedom partnered with Trenton Circus Squad to run a pilot indoor skateboarding program that has now grown into the Trenton Winter Skateboarding Program.
The Trenton Winter Skateboarding Program addresses two major challenges facing the Trenton skate community: the lack of skate parks in Trenton and the lack of any indoor skate parks in the entire state of New Jersey. Before Freedom launched the Trenton Winter Skateboarding Program, there were no safe, legal places for youth and young adults in Trenton to learn the important lessons skating teaches and there was nowhere for skateboarders in New Jersey to practice their skills when it was too rainy, cold, or dark to skate outside. Freedom’s Trenton Winter Skateboarding Program addresses both of these problems by providing the only skate park in Trenton and the only public, indoor skate park in the state.
Freedom is using the space to give back and build Trenton’s skate community. In addition to weekly “Open Skate” events, which are free and open to the public, Freedom partners with local nonprofits that serve at-risk youth to run monthly “Grom-A-Rama” board giveaways. Drawing their name from the term “grom,” which is skateboard slang for a young skater, these events empower young people to have confidence in their own ideas and welcome them into the skate community while providing equipment for youth who may not be able to afford it. In addition to the Skate Circus show on Saturday, Freedom also hosted the second Grom-A-Rama of the 2019-2020 Trenton Winter Skateboarding Program, providing free skateboarding lessons and equipment for approximately 15 youth from Trenton. At the end of the event, every child who participated took home their very own skateboard.
“Skateboarding is a unique activity that teaches crucial life lessons that have benefits far beyond the skate park. Circus is the same way, and we are thrilled to partner with Trenton Circus Squad to highlight the incredible recreation opportunities they provide for youth in Trenton,” said Jake McNichol, Founder and Executive Director of Freedom. “Today’s ‘Skate Circus’ performance not only showed off the individual skills that these youth and young adults have developed, but also highlighted the ways Trenton’s creative culture is moving the city in a positive direction. Repurposing a part of Trenton’s industrial history as a home for alternative recreation opportunities is a beautiful way to bring together Trenton’s past as an industrial powerhouse and future as a creative hub. We are proud to be work with so many incredible partners and volunteers to bring new life to this space and provide new opportunities for Trenton’s youth.”
About Freedom: Freedom is an all-volunteer 501c(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to giving more people the opportunity to learn the valuable life lessons skateboarding teaches by providing safe indoor spaces for skaters of all ages and skill levels to practice and connect with other members of the skate community. Freedom’s Trenton Winter Skateboarding Program provides the only skate park in Trenton and the only public, indoor skate park in the state of New Jersey. More information and a full event schedule is available at www.freedomnj.org/winter_skate.
About Trenton Circus Squad: Trenton Circus Squad inspires young people to take big leaps in life. Circus Squad members learn how to cooperate, push themselves and serve their community – all through the astonishing practice of circus arts.
Circus Squad members learn physical techniques, life skills, and build trust with teens from other neighborhoods. They lead community engagement through workshops and performances with younger children and families. It’s an often-breathtaking experience filled with exercise, learning, and joyful laughter for kids of all ages.
PRESS CONTACT: Connor S. Ilchert
Office: (609) 989-3047
Cell: (609) 575-1880