In 2021-22, six EYCO members undertook the “Assistant trainers sharing knowledge (ASK)” project. This project delved into the crucial but often overlooked role of assistant trainers in the youth circus world. Some partners had previously established training programs for assistant trainers, and they were eager to expand their expertise and strengthen this role. In many countries, assistant trainers lacked access to formal training, making this project’s core mission clear: develop a comprehensive curriculum and materials (including videos and guidelines) to support assistant trainers.
The ASK project unfolded across five engaging training modules, involving assistant trainers, aspiring ones, youth circus professionals, and trainers. Through collaboration, knowledge was shared, skills acquired, and project outputs crafted, ultimately producing a European model curriculum for assistant trainer courses.
Assistant trainers in the youth circus domain come from diverse backgrounds and fulfill various roles. Generally, they are individuals with amateur circus backgrounds who support lead trainers in various capacities. While many offer their time as volunteers, some receive compensation. In countries like Germany, Italy, and Finland, partner organizations offered training programs to equip assistant trainers with pedagogical skills. However, in other partner countries, no such training resources were available.
The ASK project addressed several crucial needs within the youth circus sector, including the absence of formal training, potential skill gaps among untrained assistant trainers, a lack of understanding within circus schools regarding the assistant trainer’s role, and a need for easily accessible learning materials. The project also aimed to address the challenge of retaining young participants aged 15-17 in the circus hobby and define the essential competencies and skills required for assistant trainers.
The transnational project brought together partners with varied experiences in youth circus, allowing them to share best practices and knowledge concerning assistant trainers. This exchange facilitated improvements in existing training courses and provided expertise to those without prior training resources. All partner organizations had previous experience with European partnerships and recognized the value of international connections and shared challenges.
The ASK project had a multifaceted agenda, including strengthening the competences and self-esteem of assistant trainers, exploring methods for developing competences, organizing best practices exchanges, developing a European model for assistant trainer training, and fostering youth participation. Additionally, the project aimed to enhance employment opportunities for those who complete assistant trainer programs, as demonstrated in Germany.
Participants were selected based on specific criteria, with each partner sending two participants to each training module. The project aimed to involve both adults and young individuals, including assistant trainers or those interested in becoming one, as well as adults with experience in creating training programs, circus teaching, or administrative roles within circus schools.