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Forecasting the Social Return on Investment Associated with Children’s Participation in Circus-Arts Training on their Mental Health and Well-Being

Abstract

The early and middle years of childhood are recognised as being pivotal in ensuring positive cognitive development throughout life, resulting in healthier societies. Healthier societies can mean a reduction in lifestyle related illness and therefore potentially reduce reliance on healthcare resources. The purpose of this study was to forecast the Social Return on Investment (SROI) associated with children’s participation in a circus-arts program on their mental health and well-being. A mixed method approach was adopted for this study. Key stakeholders were children aged between 9 and 14 years. Children were surveyed (n = 23) and participated in focus group (n = 55) interviews, prior to and after, six months of circus-arts training. The questionnaire used was the internationally validated Kidscreen-27. Focus group interviews asked children their beliefs about how circus made them feel and benefits of participating in circus-arts training. Results from the pre/post survey indicated some positive improvements occurred concerning children’s’ self-perceptions of personal health, though not statistically significant. Focus group results indicated positive impacts for children’s mental wellbeing, socialisation skills, physical enjoyment and resilience. The SROI analysis found that for every one dollar invested, $7 of social return may be generated due to participation in a circus-arts program. Improvement occurred across four key areas concerning children’s mental health and well-being; stress relief, self-esteem, confidence and socialisation. Findings from this study indicate the value of investment in the performing arts, highlighting the importance the circus-arts for children’s mental health. Associated impacts to improving children’s self-esteem, confidence along with relieving stress are identified as decreasing the potential costs of treating associated illnesses: such as depression and anxiety. Improvements in socialisation have been linked to costs associated to social dysfunction: such as crime and incarceration.

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Notes

  1. Figures have been rounded to whole numbers

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McGrath, R., Stevens, K. Forecasting the Social Return on Investment Associated with Children’s Participation in Circus-Arts Training on their Mental Health and Well-Being. Int J Sociol Leis 2, 163–193 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41978-019-00036-0

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Keywords

  • SROI
  • Health
  • Wellbeing
  • Circus
  • Arts