It will no longer be a worldwide debut, but Omnium Circus is still planning to put on a show for Tysons.
After abruptly canceling a months-long run at Tysons III last year, the emerging circus that caters to performers and audiences with disabilities has now booked a one-day show at Capital One Hall on Feb. 26.
The performance venue told Tysons Reporter that tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. tomorrow (Friday) on its website.
“We want more than anything to bring joy, wonder and representation to all audiences with first-rate family entertainment,” Ominum founder and executive director Lisa Lewis said in a statement. “Audiences can expect an incredible production of death-defying, awe-inspiring, madcap-circus adventures performed by the multi-talented, multi-abled company of Omnium Circus!”
The show will run in English and American Sign Language, featuring audio description and other capabilities to make the environment welcoming for diverse audiences.
Lewis launched the circus with a December 2020 livestream and a nonprofit called CircuSense. The circus planned to run in Tysons from Nov. 18 to Jan. 9, but it canceled plans even as a tent was being set up, citing COVID-19, ticket sales, and other concerns.
In response, Gallaudet University in D.C. welcomed the circus to its theater, allowing the circus to rehearse, provide a free show in November, and film performers for a virtual production that will be available to schools later this month.
Tickets go on sale this Friday! Omnium Circus is coming to Capital One Hall in Tysons, VA for one day only February 26th 2:00pm! We can't wait to see YOU there! #DiversityandInclusion #KidFriendlyDC #DCEvents pic.twitter.com/RZ6wEUfEfn
— Omnium Circus (@OmniumCircus) January 4, 2022
“The process opened our eyes to the potential of working in a performing arts venue,” Lewis said.
People who bought tickets for Omnium’s original show can get refunds or transfer their tickets to the new event.
With luck, the rescheduled show could miss the current COVID-19 surge fueled by the omicron variant. A peak in daily cases in Fairfax County has more than doubled this winter from a previous peak seen in January 2021. Nationwide, a record in daily cases skyrocketed over three times as high as it was around a year ago.
Capital One Hall requires attendees over the age of 12 to provide proof of full vaccination, and regardless of age or vaccination status, all patrons must wear masks inside the venue, except when actively eating or drinking.
The capacity of the 1,600-seat auditorium is close to what Omnium Circus could have had with Big Top tent.
“Knowing that all of the logistics involved in a long tented run were just still too risky, this is a wonderful opportunity,” Lewis said, describing the upcoming event as “the beginning of a wonderful new adventure!”
A fundraiser that was frozen last year by the coronavirus pandemic is coming back with a new location at the Mosaic District.
Special Olympics Virginia last held a polar plunge at Penny Lane Park in Merrifield in 2020 to help with its programming aimed at serving people with intellectual disabilities. Now, the event is slated to return this year on Jan. 15, with a costume contest at 1 p.m. and people jumping into the water at 1:15 p.m.
This time, though, the nonprofit’s event will have pools in the Mosaic District’s main park and pedestrian area, located by Target along Strawberry Lane.
The donations help individuals participate in the organization’s athletic training and compete at Olympic-like events, while providing school-based programming and health screenings for free to recipients.
“In early 2020 our polar plunges helped sustain us through the first year of the pandemic, and we hope [that] this year, our first year back to in person plunging, they will help continue to get us back on the playing field,” Ellen Head, senior director of development for Special Olympics Virginia, said in an email.
Special Olympics Virginia officials have been watching COVID-19 case numbers and discussing how they should proceed, given concerns over the worsening spread of the virus. Organizers have been reassured by the outside nature of the event — a lower risk environment for the spread of the virus — as well as a masking requirement for parts of the event.
Like other organizations, the nonprofit’s donations have declined amid the pandemic, but it has added virtual programming for participants that it plans to continue beyond the lifespan of the virus.
The organization has raised over $24,000 of a $30,000 goal. Head said it hopes to multiply that goal in coming years.
Photo courtesy Special Olympics Virginia
Youngkin’s Teen Son Tried to Vote Twice — The Fairfax County Office of Elections is investigating reports that Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin’s 17-year-old son attempted to cast a ballot two times on Election Day despite being ineligible to vote. Poll workers told him he couldn’t vote but gave him a form to register for future elections. [NBC4]
Roaming Rooster Opens Doors in Tysons West — “Happy Friday, RR Fam! Our Tysons Corner location is almost ready to hatch. We are having a soft opening this weekend to train our staff. All menu items are 10% off. Please stop by! Grand opening will be announced soon.” [Roaming Rooster/Twitter]
The Boro Resident Criticizes Lack of Accessibility — Retired architect and land developer John G. Colby says the vision of Tysons as an urban center with “‘accessibility for all’ is sadly turning out to be a hollow promise.” The Boro’s second phase is set to be approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors tomorrow (Tuesday) despite having no ADA-reserved curbside parking or streetlights on Westpark Drive, among other issues, he notes. [The Washington Post]
Lucid Motors Opens Tysons Corner Showroom — “Electric vehicle startup Lucid Motors will open a showroom at Tysons Corner Center in Virginia on Saturday [Nov. 6]. It’s the automaker’s 11th showroom to open. Newark, California-based Lucid, founded in 2007, delivered the first of its electric vehicles to customers Oct. 30.” [WTOP]
Robberies Reported in McLean District — A man displayed a firearm and robbed the Tower Market & Deli in the Trillium Apartments complex in Fairfax on Oct. 29, according to Fairfax County police. There was also a robbery in the 7400 block of Lee Highway in the Hollywood Road Park area on Nov. 1, where a man “took the victim’s property by threatening force and left the area in a vehicle.” No injuries were reported in either incident. [FCPD]
(Updated at 10:50 a.m. on 10/15/2021) A new circus coming to Tysons is catering to all people and seeking to eliminate barriers for those with disabilities — both performers and audience members.
From a juggler on the autism spectrum to an aerialist born without legs as well as a deaf clown, Omnium Circus has a diverse staff and a variety of special accommodations for visitors, including a show that prominently incorporates sign language, headsets for those with visual impairments that provide narrated coverage, and a special section for those with autism looking for reduced stimuli.
“Our goal is to make sure that everybody with every need has the access that they need to be able to enjoy the performance with their family,” founder Lisa Lewis told Tysons Reporter.
Named after a Latin word meaning “of all,” Omnium Circus will make its in-person world debut at Lerner’s Tysons III (8025 Galleria Drive), with performances from Nov. 18 through Jan. 9. Tickets are $35, $65, and $95.
Lewis launched the circus with a December 2020 livestream and a nonprofit called CircuSense that supports the circus through donations. She started off as a clown and has experience working with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, schools, and in hospitals with the Big Apple Circus.
She also volunteered with a program that Big Apple Circus created in 1987 called Circus of the Senses, which caters to visual and hearing-impaired audiences. She became an interpreter for the program and, later, served as its head.
Lewis considered creating a unique circus for years before launching it with online shows, partnering with schools from Australia to the U.S., Cambodia, and the U.K. Schools can still access the online show, with tickets costing $10 for each student, and educational materials are available.
For audience members with visual impairments, two speakers narrate the show in a manner similar to a sportscaster paired up with a circus expert to create a verbal version of the excitement that’s happening in the ring.
“The way you guys audio describe blew my mind,” Erik Weihenmayer said of Ominum Circus.
“Yeah, it’s like a world that was completely cut off to me,” he said. “I went to Circus de Soleil with my family and my kids are like, ‘Dad, I can’t even describe what’s going on. It’s happening too fast. So just sit back and enjoy the music.'”
He said the narration for Omnium “really made it accessible and an open door for me and so many people.”
Citing a federal contracting goal that seeks to have at least 7% of employees be people with disabilities, Omnium Circus says 26% of the circus’s team of 87 people are differently abled.
While training inexperienced staff can be a huge undertaking, the circumstances of the pandemic also allowed the circus to launch an apprenticeship-like program, furthering its racial diversity, Lewis said.
“From the boardroom to the box office to center ring, Omnium is leading the way in inclusivity and we are proud to announce we have such a high percentage of disabled employees in the Omnium family, especially during National Disability Employment Awareness Month,” Lewis said in a statement. “The circus has traditionally always been a place of diversity and acceptance and all are certainly welcome under our big top.”
Fairfax County will hold more summer classes for students with disabilities later this month after staffing issues put the program in jeopardy.
After families were informed that a teacher deficit was delaying the Extended School Year program, the school district adjusted it into two blocks, the first of which is already underway, to allow it to keep class sizes low but do more with less staff.
“We’re in a special education crisis,” Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand said Tuesday (July 13) during a work session with the school board.
He noted around half of the 400 job openings that the district currently has involve special education, but according to the school district, a second Extended School Year block is “almost fully staffed.”
“There is a full commitment that we will have a fully staffed second session of the ESY,” Mount Vernon District School Board Representative Karen Corbett-Sanders said, adding that FCPS notified families and provided a timeline for transportation, food services, and more.
Earlier this month, FCPS apologized for communications that suggested the “administration was faulting teachers for failures of the system to supply optimum programming.”
“Our staff members have gone far beyond ordinary expectations and we are grateful for their professional dedication,” the district said on social media.
While officials praised teachers and administrators for making services work this summer, FCPS is looking to build within its own ranks to help address long-term faculty shortages.
School officials are working to apply for COVID-19 relief from an ESSER III fund (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief). The money comes from the $1.9 trillion stimulus in the American Rescue Plan Act, passed by Congress and signed into law in March.
Previous federal COVID-19 relief plans included ESSER funds administered by state education departments, though local school districts had to apply to obtain the funds.
The school board was slated to vote on a plan for how to spend the roughly $189 million that FCPS is seeking when it meets tomorrow (Thursday).
The money would cover a three-year span, starting with the upcoming school year through June 2024. Intended to help schools safely open after a challenging year due to the pandemic, the funds can be used to support school operations and address students’ social and emotional needs.
The proposed plan would allocate $46.2 million to special education staff, which amounts to a 7% salary increase to cover the extra 30 minutes needed each day to file Individualized Education Program paperwork due to the pandemic, according to FCPS.
The funding sought would also involve around $2.5 million for professional development. According to Tuesday’s presentation to the school board, that effort would involve two new employees each year. It isn’t immediately clear if that’s all for salaries or if other expenses are involved.
Other requests include $54 million for academic interventions, $2 million for cybersecurity, $15.9 million for after school programming and transportation at high schools, and $20.1 million for a summer 2022 learning program.
Board members pressed FCPS officials for more accountability and strategic planning in its plans for the federal funds. Community members previously weighed in through focus groups in May and June, online feedback, and a June 7 public hearing.
Wilda Smith Ferguson, a parent of a child with special needs in the district, said during the June meeting that the school system’s decisions regarding protocols haven’t taken children like hers into consideration.
“She is totally dependent on her teachers and the support staff at the high school that she attends,” Ferguson said. “I would like to see some of the money in the grant go to, basically, instead of ‘trickle down,’ trickle up. Figure out what is best for the most vulnerable and work up.”
The deadline for FCPS to apply for ESSER funds is Sept. 1.
Summer School Delayed for Special Education Students — The families of roughly 1,200 students with special needs were informed last Wednesday (June 23) that their summer school that was supposed to start Monday (June 28) has instead been delayed to the end of July. Fairfax County Public Schools has only been able to hire 75% of the teachers needed to run the special education program. [The Washington Post]
Vienna Hires New Spokesperson — The Town of Vienna has hired Karen Acar Thayer as its new public information officer, effective yesterday (Monday). Responsible for the town’s communications, marketing, and outreach efforts, Thayer’s past experience includes work as a promotional services manager for the Fairfax County Park Authority and as communications director for Falls Church City Public Schools. [Town of Vienna]
Mary Riley Styles Public Library Anticipates August Reopening — The Mary Riley Styles Public Library expects to have an official ribbon cutting for its newly renovated building in early to mid-August with a grand opening celebration to follow in September or October. Construction has been ongoing since early 2020 and includes the addition of more than 6,000 square feet of space. [Falls Church News-Press]
Supreme Court Declines to Hear Transgender Bathroom Case — “The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a Virginia school board’s appeal to reinstate its transgender bathroom ban, handing a victory to transgender rights groups and a former high school student who fought in court for six years to overturn the ban.” [Associated Press/WTOP]
For Langley Residential Support Services, a little charity goes a long way.
The Tysons-based nonprofit announced on Wednesday (May 5) that it has received a $15,000 grant from the Narang Foundation, a private family foundation based out of McLean.
This is not the first time that the Narang family has given a boost to Langley Residential, which provides residential and community support services to adults with developmental disabilities. The foundation also donated $10,000 to the nonprofit last year.
“The Narang Foundation is proud to once again support Langley Residential Support Services and the essential services they provide our community. It is our pleasure to assist LRSS,” said Foundation trustee RJ Narang, who is also president and CEO of the information technology contractor Renegade Technology Systems.
Founded in the 1980s by members of three McLean churches, Langley Residential Support Services opened its first group home in 1985 and now operates six homes in Fairfax County, along with a community support program that provides counseling, training, and other drop-in services.
The nonprofit says it currently serves 23 people through its residential program and 31 people through the community program.
According to an LRSS press release, the Narang Foundation increased its donation this year in response to funding challenges that the nonprofit has experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
LRSS has already used the funds to make repairs at two of its group homes. One of the facilities had an underground water main pipe leak that was also affecting a neighbor’s property, and the other had a failed heating and air conditioning unit that was discovered during seasonal maintenance.
“The gift has been a lifesaver in helping us make unexpected repairs to major systems at our group homes last month,” LRSS interim executive director Maureen Gum said. “We are thrilled that the Narang family has made this outstanding contribution that protects our community’s well-being and keeps everyone thriving.”
While the Narang Foundation’s grant was welcome, LRSS says more support is needed to address other projects that were delayed to accommodate the “ongoing overwhelming costs” of measures necessitated by the pandemic, including increased staffing, sanitation procedures, and personal protective equipment.
The nonprofit is now embarking on a two-week fundraising drive through May 18. Its needs include $300 to repair an existing stair lift, $700 to replace worn-out electrical systems, $6,000 to install a new stair lift, and $13,000 to install a vertical ADA-compliant platform lift.
“Every contribution makes a difference in providing the highest-quality care and support to LRSS individuals, their families, and our broader community,” Gum said.
With the start of the new school year quickly approaching, the latest Fairfax County Public Schools town hall will focus how staff will support students with disabilities in a virtual learning environment.
Tomorrow (Wednesday), FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand will talk to some of the school system’s special education staff.
“Staff members will explain what they do to support students with disabilities in Fairfax County and will talk about student engagement in the virtual environment, family partnerships, student support, and specialized instruction,” according to FCPS.
Recently, Brabrand has held town halls on Wednesdays to talk about the plans for the virtual return to school and answer community members’ questions.
FCPS has a town hall about the return to school in Spanish scheduled for next Tuesday, Sept. 1, from 6:30-7:30 p.m., followed by a town hall on Wednesday, Sept. 2, on resources for parents.
Image via Fairfax County Public Schools
Chesterbrook Elementary School (1753 Kirby Rd) in McLean wants to host an event to help children understand the daily life experiences students with developmental challenges face, but some adult supervision is needed.
Adult volunteers are needed to help students through activities that help them understand fine motor skill challenges, dyslexia, ADHD and more.
“Your help is needed in running interactive hands-on activities designed to teach kids about a variety of challenges faced by some of their friends,” the school said in the post. “We welcome anyone who loves working with kids and wants to help make this world a more understanding place for those with learning differences.”
Volunteers from outside of the Chesterbrook community are welcome and recommended to attend a training session on Monday, March 18 from 7-8 p.m.
Photo via Facebook
The following article excerpt is from our content sharing partner, FairfaxNews.com.
It’s the holiday season and the malls are crowded. Parking spots, especially those close to entrances, are at a premium – even more so for people with a handicapped.
So, Fairfax County officials are trying a new idea to keep those accessible spots free for those who really need them. They’re calling it “empathy parking.” Signs saying “Think of Me, Park Legally” are being placed under the standard ADA accessible parking signs.
It’s a project of the Fairfax Area Commission on Aging and the Fairfax Area Disability Services Board.
Read more at FairfaxNews.com
Photo via Fairfax County