The IJA Youth Juggling Academy (formerly known as the IJA Youth Education Program or “YEP”) is launching an exciting new achievement recognition program! This program is not just for kids; adult IJA members can earn achievement badges, too.
Rather than a one-size-fits-all leveling system, the Youth Juggling Academy (YJA) achievement program is loosely patterned after the badges used by the Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts of America. This a la carte model is ideal for accommodating children of all ages and juggling interests, and can be used simultaneously with other achievement systems that youth juggling instructors already have in place.
Youth Juggling Academy (YJA) members 18-years-old and under will receive the badges free of cost. As added incentive, they will be given one entry into a bimonthly giveaway of juggling props, dvds, books, and t-shirts for each button that they earn. Adults can contribute to the YJA by earning achievements and giving a minimum donation of $2 per badge. Each achievement earned by an adult will pay for the materials to provide 10 badges to kids free of charge.
In addition to its motivational benefits, we believe this program has the potential to:
– promote interest in juggling among non-juggling youth through wearable achievements
– boost youth membership in the IJA
– create a stronger common identity among the Youth Juggling Academy’s various pods, and
– foster increased communication among the youth juggling community as a whole.
IJA member and performer Louis Skaradek has generously donated his time over the past several months to design the badges (see photo). “Graphic design and juggling have been a part of my life since high school. After a few years working in Baltimore at a couple different art departments, I took to the road – traveling the country with ‘The London Broil Show.’ When I was asked to create these badges for the Youth Juggling Academy I thought it was a perfect fit – I am an Eagle Scout, juggler, and designer,” says Skaradek.
New badges will be released periodically. The program’s initial release will include badges for juggling 3-7 balls, clubs, rings, and mixed props (50 catches per button for 3-5 objects, with smaller goals required for 6 and 7 objects). The first round of badges will also include a “teacher” button for teaching others to juggle and a “Juggler” button for qualifying 3 balls, thus allowing anyone who wants to participate in the program to get started right away. “YJA Sponsor” badges will be available for those wishing to donate funding to the YJA (more info on this TBA).
Aiming to encourage children’s interest in all facets of juggling, achievement categories will include: technical ability, creativity, performance, alternative props, teaching juggling to others, community service, festival attendance and interaction with the greater juggling community, making juggling props, and knowledge of juggling history, among others. To give children greater ownership of the program, the YJA will eventually invite kids to submit proposals for new achievements. If a child’s achievement is accepted it will become available for all IJA members to earn. He/she will receive a special badge for designing an achievement, and be publicly recognized if he/she chooses and receives parental permission.
The Youth Juggling Academy has already received generous donations for the bimonthly giveaway from a number of prop vendors and performers (some donations are pictured):
– Flying Clipper donated 23 Tossaball juggling balls.
– Higgins Brothers donated: a diabolo, a set of Cirque du Soleil balls, 3 rings, a “Complete Juggling Kit”, and a spinning plate.
– Brontosaurus Balls donated several sets of Brontosaurus juggling balls.
– Institute of Jugglology donated 7 Northwest Arkansas Juggling Festival t-shirts, in multiple sizes and designs.
– Peter Irish and Ambree Zuba donated several sets of practice poi.
– Forty Fingers and a Missing Tooth donated several Asheville Juggling Festival t-shirts.
– Niels Duinker donated 12 copies of his book, “Catching Greatness: A guide to Thriving in a World Plagued by Gravity,” and 8 copies of his dvd, “Performance Highlights and Learn to Juggle DVD.” Some of Niels’ books and videos will be prizes for the bimonthly giveaway, and some will be sent to YJA pods.
IJA Board of Directors Chairman and program founder Erin Stephens comments, “The achievement recognition program is taking the YJA to the next level, by offering an exciting and concrete reward for youth who reach specific goals within their juggling programs. The IJA is excited to see how these rewards will motivate and inspire youth to continue to improve, and enhance their overall passion for juggling.”
For more information about earning YJA badges, donating items for bimonthly prizes, sponsoring the YJA, or incorporating YJA achievement badges into your existing youth juggling program, please e-mail IJA Youth Juggling Academy Director Ellen Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org.