Paul Miller & Circus Mojo Are Changing Lives Through Smiles

Paul Miller of Circus Mojo with a student at Williamstown Elementary School

Paul Miller of Circus Mojo with a student at Williamstown Elementary School

His Park Hills neighbors know him as Paul Miller, the family man. But to the greater Tri-State region and in circus circles across the country and abroad, Paul is the former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey clown who is inspiring people of all ages, abilities and life circumstances to focus on their strengths through circus arts. Paul’s company – Ludlow based Circus Mojo – touches lives in hospitals, boardrooms, workshops, entertainment venues and in their own performance theatre.

Every day is a new opportunity for Paul and his team to foster teamwork, teach life and motor skills, and even encourage youth to stay in school on a path toward their own success.

The picture on the left speaks volumes for the impact of Paul on those whose lives he touches.

Through the Social Circus Foundation’s Circus Scholastic Program, every Tuesday and Wednesday children from low income families attending Ludlow Elementary School and the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky participate in the afterschool program that includes healthy snacks, homework assistance, and an hour of learning through confidence-building circus skills activities.

Jesse Knuckles, recreation therapist at the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky, spoke with me about Paul’s impact. This is what he had to say: “In regards to a young man who attended the Circus Mojo group I just recently told another staff member, ‘if Paul Miller was this young man’s therapist we would have had a breakthrough years ago’. I have heard direct quotes from young people participating in Circus Mojo’s Circus Wellness program such as, ‘this is better than being high on drugs’ and ‘I have had a terrible day all I want to do is go to Circus group so I can forget about it all and feel better’.

“Circus Mojo gives our 18 residents something to look forward to each week. The residents here at Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky truly enjoy their time at Circus Mojo. As the Recreation Therapist I enjoy the life lessons and therapeutic value of Circus Mojo. The Circus Wellness program combines physical skills with creative expression to address psychotherapy and personal growth goals including teamwork, leadership, cooperation, trust building, building relationships, self-esteem, coordination, gross & fine motor skills, and focus. I guess you can say we are clowning around for a purpose”

Paul Miller of Circus MojoYoung people with or without parents participate in a variety of Circus Mojo workshops and classes, and the Social Circus Fund provides scholarship assistance to those who cannot afford the cost.

And recently, Circus Mojo took local students on a campus tour of Illinois State University (home of the oldest collegiate circus in the United States).

Some career options that use circus skills including becoming certified as a circus wellness specialist to work in m

Trapeze artists Duo Rose will be performing at Circus Mojo

Trapeze artists Duo Rose will be performing at Circus Mojoedical settings, being an entertainer or speaker, doing social work; and even using the leadership and teamwork skills to being an effective manager or any other career choice.

Speaking of college, May 16 to 18 is Circus Mojo’s second annual International College Circus Festival – a three day event aimed at encouraging young adults to pursue their passion. Circus artists (professional and students) from the United States and across the globe are coming to lead workshops, network, discuss employment and volunteer opportunities, AND participate in a fabulous family-friendly show on Saturday night.

Among the highlights of the show will be beautiful trapeze artists, Duo Rose, winners of 12 international awards. The Show will begin at 8:00 p.m. on May 17 at Circus Mojo (322 Elm Street, Ludlow, Kentucky; 41016). Tickets are $10 for adults; $5 for children under 12; and $25 for VIP tickets. All proceeds from the show will benefit the Social Circus Fund, a nonprofit foundation that is the clearinghouse for scholarships and to educate and study the application of circus for social change and in medical settings.

Please visit Circus Mojo’s website to learn more at

About the Social Circus Foundation:

The Social Circus Fund is a new nonprofit whose focus is on using the circus as tools to work with underserved populations for social change and in medical settings.

It has three main programs:

1-   Approximately one-third (1/3) of the Foundation’s attention will be focused on using circus to improve the lives of the mentally and physically disabled.

2-   Another approximately one-third (1/3) of the Foundation’s attention will be focused on vocational training. The Foundation will provide job training and skill sets focused on the circus industry to the underprivileged in an effort to give them the tools they need to sustain livelihood and be productive members of society.

3-   The remaining one-third (1/3) of the Foundation’s attention will be focused on education. Specifically, the foundation will study the impact of social circus in medical settings and as a tool for social change. The data collected will be used to study impact of circus on an individual’s mental and physical health, and to support social circus work in group homes, detention centers, and medical facilities.


Circus Mojo Is Building Medical Clowning Training Site


When it comes to higher education, not many people can claim they hold a degree in Higher Hilarity from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. But my client, Paul Miller, founder of Ludlow’s Circus Mojo can. He graduated and went on tour with the Circus before creating CircEsteem, a Chicago-based organization designed to build self-esteem through the circus arts and later performing as Pauly the Clown at home and abroad, including six months in an international show in Japan. Lucky for Greater Cincinnati, he settled here. His Circus Mojo has not only entertained but lifted the spirits and increased self esteem of thousands in our region – from children in hospitals to urban youth to executives at area companies.

To see the faces on children who he interacts with is well, just magic. Paul has a gift. One that I don’t think school can teach – although I admit I have never been to a clown college before.Paul Miller and Emma - medical clowning

But Paul has more than a gift. He has a passion. Every day through his work he is making a positive difference in the lives of others. Emma’s smile in this photo says it all. She was born with Fanconi Anemia (FA), which causes bone marrow failure and cancers. Please click here to read her mother’s blog post about one of Paul’s visits.

Now Paul, whose company has been working with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for years, is gearing up to open the country’s very first training site for medical clowning. Next week he will be hosting a public workshop. Below are details from my news release.

Head of the World’s Only Four Year Degree Program In Medical Clowning
Travels From Israel And Visits Future Site Of The United States’
First Training Site for Medical Clown Certification In Ludlow, Kentucky

When it comes to alleviating tension, reducing pain, and speeding recovery time of hospital patients, medical clowning has serious healing power. And soon, Circus Mojo in Ludlow, Kentucky will open the United States’ very first training site to offer medical clown certification. On October 3, Dr. Atay Citron, head of the world’s only four-year degree program in medical clowning at Israel’s University of Haifa, and David Barashi, trained medical clown who has performed in India, Thailand, and with the Israeli Defense Force in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, will be visiting and co-hosting with Circus Mojo a free, three hour workshop.

Free Clowning Workshop
Thursday, October 3 from 6 to 9 pm
at Circus Mojo (322 Elm St in Ludlow, Kentucky, 41016)


Dr. Citron and Barashi will be in Greater Cincinnati as part of an educational exchange through Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s Israel Exchange Program.

It was two years ago when the two first met Circus Mojo founder, Paul Miller, at the 10th anniversary of the Dream Doctors Conference in Israel, where Miller – a veteran Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus clown – performed with pioneers in the study and implementation of medical clowning.

Mr. David Barashi is a Medical Clown; he has earned an undergraduate degree in Nursing and theatre arts from the University of Heifa. This episode also features a documentary on medical clowning through which physicians relate to acutely and chronically ill children and their parents to help them endure painful and stressful medical procedures.”

What is a medical clown or circus wellness specialist?

A medical clown or circus wellness specialist is a trained profession who has the ability to understand a patient’s behavior and medical staff interaction, and can connect with parents and non-ill siblings as well.  A 2005 study by Vagnoli and Caprilli demonstrated that the presence of clowns, together with the child’s parents, during the induction of anesthesia, was an effective intervention for managing children’s and parents’ preoperative anxiety.  (

Over the past four years Circus Mojo has had a contract with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (and other leading institutions) to dispense ‘Mojo Medicine.’ Performers work as Circus Wellness ™ Specialists to reduce anxiety in patients and their families, and work to build hospital staff morale in a highly stressful environment.

Paul Miller of Circus Mojo and Emma“We have seen firsthand the benefits of our Mojo Medicine in hospitals, and our vision is to expand this very important work with an accredited training center at our newly acquired 9,000 square foot facility in Ludlow,” said Miller.

The Institute of Social Circus & Vocational Training Center L3C

In October 2012 Miller and a group of international partners purchased the former Duro Bag Headquarters from the City of Ludlow with the help of a $10,000 contribution from Duke Energy.

The Institute of Social Circus is developing a certification program in applying circus training with three focus areas: Youth, Medical Settings, and Adults Who Are Seniors And/Or Who Have Disabilities.

When complete in mid-2014, the Institute of Social Circus & Vocational Training Center, will be the first training center in the world dedicated to teaching adults the circus techniques, team building skills and social work principles for the purposes of training, educating and meeting the social service needs of disenfranchised youth or in Cirque Du Soleil terms, “youth in difficulty”, hospitalized individuals and youth in detention or in other institutionalized settings, serving a growing need in the United States and abroad.

About Circus Mojo Founded in 2009 by former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey clown Paul Miller, Circus Mojo  engages people of all ages to focus on abilities in hospitals, boardrooms, events, workshops, and other venues. With three focus areas – entertainment, education and community development – its programs and performances are designed to unlock personal talent, confidence, drive and spirit.

Paul explains Circus Wellness

Circus Mojo’s Circus Wellness (™) PechaKucha from Paul Miller on Vimeo.


Win Tickets To The International College Circus Festival


This weekend, the Flying Pig Marathon isn’t the only reason visitors are traveling to Greater Cincinnati. Just across the river, some of the most sought after college circus groups in the world are coming to Ludlow, Kentucky (some are already here) for a weekend of great fun at my client, Circus Mojo.

Gamma Phi CircusAmong the groups will be Gamma phi Circus (the oldest collegiate circus in the U.S.), Cirque du K Kalamazoo, Flight Club Bloomington, Flight Club Bloomington, Kibera Social Circus from Narobi (Kenya), Omar Fuentes of Mexico ‘s Circo Callejero, and Hidung Merah Circus from Jakarta (Indonesia).

Also performing will be 18 year old Wawan Kuriawan from an impoverished village in North Jakarta, Indonesia. Kuriawan dropped out of school in the 6th grade when his family was unable to pay for his education; and in 2009 joined the Red Nose Foundation. Circus Mojo is sponsoring his visa to study circus arts in town this summer.

The participants of the International College Circus Festival will be performing two shows on Saturday, May 4, at the Ludlow Theatre (next door to Circus Mojo – at 322 Elm St; Ludlow, KY 41016).  Details are at the bottom of the post.

You’ll be able to see them at the Flying Pig the Kentucky Enquirer, or on FOX19, WLWT and WCPO Saturday morning (barring any breaking news).

You can win tickets!

I’m giving away a four pack of tickets to the evening performance that begins at 8 pm. I will randomly draw a name on Thursday, May 2, at 3 pm.

 How to enter, do one or more of the following:

Post a comment to this post telling me what you love about the circus.

Post a comment on the Good Things Going Around Facebook page about why you love the circus.

Or email and tell me why you love the circus.


Where:                Circus Mojo in Ludlow, Kentucky (insert address)

When:                 Saturday shows for the public   3 pm and 8 pm

Cost:                    Saturday – 3 pm matinee –  $5 for adults and kids are FREE

8 pm – $10 for adults and kids are $5

Tickets available at the door.




Accessible Playground Dedicated At Redwood


Lots of community volunteers and organizations helped dedicate a beautiful new, wheelchair accessible playground in Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky. Now all children will be able to play together at Redwood – a Northern Kentucky nonprofit that provides educational, therapeutic and vocational services to kids and adults with disabilities.

accessible playground at RedwoodI spoke with Bridgette Hightower, Redwood community outreach and training coordinator, about the project which was first initiated last summer. A group of GE employees were looking for a volunteer project and when they saw the playground that was originally built in the 1970s, their team leader asked if they could rebuild it. “In no time they organized the labor and donations,” Bridgette told me.

In addition to providing volunteers, GE also funded a portion of the playground equipment and landscaping costs. Additional funding for the playground was made possible from the Jack J. Smith Jr. Charitable Trust, PNC Bank and Karen Wachs, Co-Trustees, and Western Southern.  Other contributors of time and talent include Ethicon-Endo Surgery, Northern Kentucky University, P&G, JPK Landscaping, Walnut Grove Playground, Art’s Rental Equipment & Supply and Cincinnati Community Toolbank creating a dynamic community-wide partnership. GE volunteer at Redwood

Pones Inc. Livens Up Bus Ride With Surprise Dance


Pones Inc.

Pones in Public and TANK present “Ride with an Artist Day”!

I love it! It began as any ordinary ride for the passengers about the #25 TANK bus in downtown Covington, Kentucky last week. Unbeknownst to them, the group that boarded together carrying a boom box was actually a group of dancers from Pones Inc. Within a few blocks, music began and suddenly the bus was filled with dancing!

You can imagine, there were a lot of smiles being passed around. By the second song, riders were invited to join along – and many did. One person even learned all of the moves by the time the bus Pones Inc. groupreached NKU.

Founded in 2008 by Kim Popa and Lindsey Jones, Pones Inc. has collaborated with over 100 artists and 50 art and service organizations. The company creates site-specific performances through a fusion of movement and dance with other art forms. Pones Inc.’s accessible and participatory performances have been seen in over 30 Greater Cincinnati locations, as well as, Indianapolis, and Chicago. Ongoing programs are available year round for artists and art groups, schools, and businesses.

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