Bethany Haines at Adventure Circus

Juggling Life

Circus classes help to give Bethany a positive outlook on life

Life has thrown many extreme challenges the way of Bethany Haines, but since joining Adventure Circus her life is looking much more positive. 

After the tragic and well documented murder of her father, aid worker David Haines in 2014, Bethany struggled severely with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and grief, and was finding it difficult to process her emotions. 

In 2023, through a Women’s Aid after care group, Bethany attended a taster session for her unlikely saviour…Adventure Circus. 

“A lot of my life has been out with my control. I needed a way to regain control of my life and focus on a new challenge.

“I wanted a place to express myself without judgement and to do something new and fun.

"I’m a bit of a dare devil and so this seemed a perfect fit.”

Adventure Circus are a circus and fitness charity, that are part of the Sport for Change Network in Perth. The Sport for Change Network is a community sport hub set up by Live Active Leisure and part of the national sportscotland community sport hub network. 

The Sport for Change Network aims to encourage local sports clubs to develop projects that support increased awareness of mental health, with Adventure Circus receiving funding from the Scottish Government's Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund, to support individuals and improve the mental health of groups within Perth. 

After attending the taster session, Bethany was hooked and would religiously attend each session in the 24- week training block. From previously laughing at the thought, Bethany soon started mastering the art of hula hooping and aerial hammock, a form of aerial acrobatics which uses a suspended hammock and aerial fabric. 

Bethany said: “Adventure Circus has given me that sense of escape and freedom from the darkness. I previously went from hobby to hobby, but circus has been the only thing that has actually stuck! 

“They’ve allowed me to learn these amazing and technical skills at no cost and I’ve made friends for life since joining less than a year ago. My instructor’s enthusiasm and confidence truly inspires me and encourages me to work harder. She makes me feel I can accomplish anything and that helps in everyday life too.

"Adventure Circus has had such a positive influence on my life. Since taking part in circus skills, my self-confidence has improved massively. 

"My general mood is one of happiness rather than one of anxiety. For the first time I can imagine my future and it will definitely include Adventure Circus.

"If you are thinking of trying something new, then I would say just do it! It will change your life for the better and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve. It really is life changing.”

Instructor at Adventure Circus, Suzie Bee said: “Bethany had never tried circus before, but she came full of enthusiasm and a willingness to give everything a try! On the outside she was so positive and happy but when I got to know her, I now know this wasn’t the case inside.

“Having done 24 weeks of circus training and performed a show for family and friends, I can say she's increased her strength, endurance and flexibility but most importantly I feel she's more positive and happy.”

On the role Adventure Circus play within the community, Charity Director and Sport Development Officer for Live Active Leisure, Gemma Simpson said: "Similar to sport and other physical activities, regular participation in circus skills at an amateur level has been associated with increases in mental health and psychological wellbeing.  We know our own students benefit through the surveys we do, therefore we work tirelessly to support our students and instructors, as well as finding ways to welcome more people to take part in our activities each year.  

“We have something for everyone at Adventure Circus, including aerial acrobatics, hula hooping and juggling. We also have a complimentary weekly fitness programme that students can access at no extra cost which help to develop fitness, flexibility and mindfulness (yoga).

“If you feel that you would like to explore circus skills too, then please check out our website to find out more.”

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