Improving the lives of young people through circus



Lolly Jar Circus is the social circus centre of South Australia


”Social circus is an innovative social intervention approach based on the circus arts. It targets various at-risk groups living in precarious personal and social situations… the primary goal is not to learn the circus arts, but rather to assist with participants’ personal and social development by nurturing their self-esteem and trust in others, as well as by helping them to acquire social skills, become active citizens, express their creativity and realise their potential.”  (Cirque du Soleil)


Lolly Jar Circus uses social circus to create social change by helping young people gain fitness, confidence and friendship.



Lolly Jar Circus offers regular circus classes for young people up to the age of 26, including and especially those with physical or intellectual disabilities or who are socially at risk.  Our wonderfully diverse participants are the "lollies" in the lolly jar.  They tumble, balance, hula-hoop, juggle and much more in a supportive and non-competitive environment.

Our trainers have years of experience in teaching circus skills or gymnastics. They are experienced in working with people with disabilities. All of them have Department of Human Services (formerly Department for Communities and Social Inclusion) Working with Children Clearances.

Lolly Jar Circus also offers outreach classes, which can be a one-off or a series. They are suitable for people of all ages, mainstream and special schools, OSHCs, community groups, Day Options groups, and corporate training days.  Fun is guaranteed.

To find out more visit our Classes page.

Lolly Jar Circus is an incorporated not-for-profit association with charitable and deductible gift recipient status. Our Board members, who are all volunteers, set our strategic direction. 



Circus training is fun with important benefits (Kelly Vincent calls it “hiding the vegetables”!)


Circus training promotes

  • Physical fitness

  • Gross and fine motor coordination

  • Artistic creativity

  • Social skills

  • Co-operation

  • Respect

  • Acceptance

  • Positive thinking





Dr Reg Bolton is the father of the new circus movement in Australia.  In his thesis, Why Circus Works: How the values and structure of circus make it a significant developmental experience for young people  he uses the analogy of a hand to summarise the elements of circus:

  • The index finger is self, individuality, identity and image

  • The middle finger is risk, adventure, courage and defiance

  • The ring finger is trust, touch, cooperation and sharing

  • The little finger is dreams, aspiration, imagination and symbolism

  • The thumb is hard work, resilience, persistence and process

  • The ticklish palm is fun, humour, happiness and laughter

Kristy Seymour, of Circus Stars in Brisbane completed her Masters with a thesis, How circus training can enhance the well-being of autistic children and their families.

In it she states:

"Social circus sets out to re-create the sense of freedom and fun that is associated with healthy childhoods…For children with special needs, social circus can concentrate on providing an apparently non-therapeutic, easy-going creative environment in which they can come to feel safe, while involving them in activities that encourage them to develop a sense of connection - with themselves and with each other."



Lolly Jar Circus was established in 2013 to provide a safe and happy place for all young people to enjoy circus fun together


Lolly Jar Circus founded by current Chief Executive Officer Judy Bowden as an inclusive circus school.

Classes commenced at the All Souls Church Hall in St Peters.

First performance at the Bunnings Kent Town Family Christmas Party.

First media appearance in Aspire Magazine with journalist Ashleigh Ebert and her brother, Port Power player, Brad Ebert.


Granted funding from the Department of Communities and Social Inclusion through Community Benefit SA to purchase gymnastic and manipulation equipment.

First fundraising event held in record breaking 47-degree heat.

Returned to the Bunnings Kent Town Family Christmas Party.

The Sidney Myer Fund (Poverty and Disadvantage Small Grants Program) funded performance preparation and costumes for our inaugural public performance at the Disability and Information Resource Centre Expo.


Featured on Channel 7 News Adelaide.

Benefit partner of Cirque du Soleil’s philanthropic arm Cirque du Monde for the Adelaide tour of “Totem”. Partnership included sale of 100 tickets as a fundraiser and hosting participants and their families at the dress rehearsal.

Received funding from Department of Communities and Social Inclusion through Community Benefit SA for volunteer and paid staff training with a presentation by Autism SA.


Sponsored by Perks Integrated Business Services which continues with in-kind support. Collaborated with Cirkidz to perform at the opening of Flinders Therapy House.

Participated in the Moon Lantern Festival and with participants Charlie and Angus featured in Eastern Courier Messenger.

Trainer Charlie Wilkins won the inaugural Australian Circus and Physical Theatre “Spirit of Circus” Award. Prize included a trip to Melbourne for flying trapeze workshops with Circus Oz.

Trainer Pennyanne Garner awarded the inaugural Lolly Jar Circus Deb Dawson Award for Outstanding Service.


Received funding from the Department of Communities and Social Inclusion through Community Benefits SA for the commencement of a pre-school aged class called “Little Lollies” and the purchase of a defibrillator.

Received a grant from the Sisters of Charity to provide 10 year-long scholarships for participants.

Belgian Beer Café sponsored participant Diezel and had an on-going program of discounted meals for Lolly Jar Circus.

Moved to newly built ARC Leisure Centre at Campbelltown.


Participants, families, trainers and volunteers took part in the Moon Lantern Festival.

Performed at the KYD-X Disability Expo with a “Spring” themed performance.

Performed at the annual Bunnings Mile End Family Christmas Party.

Volunteers Brianna Gourley, Susan Soleil and Rikki Wright jointly awarded the 2016 Lolly Jar Circus Deb Dawson Award for Outstanding Service.


The Advertiser featured Diezel and his trainer Jono in a double page spread.

Sisters of Charity renewed their scholarships for 10 participants, enabling some of our old friends to continue and some new friends to join.

Commenced classes at a second venue in the Windsor Gardens Community Hall. Participants Marley and Mya featured in the Messenger Press (state which one).

Participants Amelia, Marley and Mya featured in the Messenger Press (state which one) for the launch of National Youth Week.

Volunteer Susan featured in national story on Channel 9’s Today Extra show.

Received funding from the Department of Communities and Social Inclusion through Community Benefits SA for another volunteer training program.


Fundraising dinner at the National Wine Centre MC Alex Ward and speaker Paul Blackwell

Received funding from the Office for Recreation and Sport that enabled us to increase our reach and to plan for classes at Elizabeth.

Performed at KYD-X, the Christmas Party for Special Children at the Zoo and Celebration on the Square to mark International Day of People with Disability.

Lolly Jar Circus nominated and Judy awarded an International Day of People with Disability Playford Mayoral Award.

Treasurer Peter Featherston awarded the Deb Dawson Award for Outstanding Service in recognition of his 4 years of volunteer service.

Lolly Jar Circus became a registered as provider under the NDIS for Capacity Building - Innovative Community Participation - Increased Social and Community Participation


Commenced classes at Elizabeth and Glandore.

The Sidney Myer Foundation funded four scholarships for indigenous youth.

Received grant by the Universal Charitable Fund to fund two scholarships for young people with disabilities or at risk.

Received 2 Centenary Grants from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia branches at Campbelltown and the Burnside Village, voted by the bank staff, totaling $20,000.

The Sisters of Charity funded 15 scholarships for young people in difficult financial circumstances.

The Department for Human Services granted funds to purchase three iPads to help with administration.

November 28, Carclew announced a Project and Development Grant of $20,000 to run a series of classes in 2019 leading to a grand performance in November.