In 2012, Travis Johnson travelled to Thailand with his father, Aaron Johnson, to build a circus school at the Child Protection and Development Centre in Pattaya. The team included senior instructors from the Vancouver Circus School (Meregon Kiddo, Nigel Wakita, and Jonathan Ferland-Valois) and photographer Jonathan Evans.
While building the school, the team met Dan Roberts of Red Nose Foundation (Jakarta Indonesia), Jerry Snell (Asian Action Arts and Street Arts for Street Kids in Thailand-Vietnam-Malaysia) and Gil Favreau (Cirque Du Soleil), all founding leaders in the then-nascent social circus movement.
Inspired by the happiness and joy it brought to children and communities, Travis fell in love with social circus. This connection was made even more personal by a sad turn of events: the school in Pattaya was the last circus school Travis would ever build with his father, who died two days after returning from this trip.
In March 2013 and with support from Cirque du Soleil, Travis, Dan and Jerry, along with David Mason (Mobile Mini Circus for Children in Afghanistan) and Jean-Noel Walkowiak (Phare Ponleu Selpak in Cambodia) founded the Asian Social Circus Foundation (ASCA).
ASCA connects and empowers youth art-based organizations (social, community, and for-profit) in Asia. With members spanning from Kabul to Canberra, its two core objectives are child protection advocacy throughout Asia and introduction of social circus as an empowerment medium for underprivileged communities across Asia.
Travis wanted to bring the success of social circus to more underserved communities, both locally in Canada and globally. In 2017, he founded the Social Circus Foundation together with founding board members, Alexander Boldizar and Adam King, with the support of Blakes Cassels and Graydon LLD.
To date, the Social Circus Foundation builds programs for Squamish Nation, SOS Children’s Village BC and facilitates an international volunteer program with SOS Children’s Canada.