Imagine a place where men and women, boys and girls of all ages and abilities meet together to exercise and socialise. Where you are accepted for who you are and yet you find yourself doing things you would never have thought you could do. Where you can bounce, run, roll, swing, climb, fly and laugh. Where the support people give you makes you stronger physically, mentally and emotionally. A place that transforms lives.
In Cardiff, we don’t have to imagine such a place because we have one. Walking into CCYC last night, I passed people coming together for (amongst other activities) swimming, netball, gym and fencing, and people relaxing in the cafe. It warms my heart every time, getting there. And it always strikes me that so many girls and women are participating. At the end of the corridor is my second home, Nofitstate Circus. My gross motor skills have never amounted to much and I was left out of sports teams at school. In gym lessons I felt exposed and embarrassed at my lack of grace and strength. In recent years osteoarthritis has set in, but Circus helps me keep on top of it. Thanks to the trainers and community members at Nofitstate, I can swing on a flying trapeze. I can even turn up-side-down and hang by my knees and fling myself off in the direction of the cradle: this has taken me a year and a half when it takes many people an hour and a half, but it feels all the more wonderful for the journey. Managing manic depression has been easier thanks to the physical strength I have built up and the warmth of the people I fly with. When you fly, you forget everything else.
Places where people collaborate and cooperate are at the heart of a healthy, happy city.