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UP CLOSE: Utah ‘Circus School’ Fulfills Dreams, Saves Lives

Aug 7, 2019, 6:55 PM | Updated: Aug 8, 2019, 6:30 am

MIDVALE, Utah – Running off to the circus is not just some catchy line for one school in Midvale. No, they take it very literally. That’s their goal: get people to the circus.

The school’s coach, Darla Day, joined the Chimal Circus 11 years ago in Houston, Texas. For her, it was a dream come true.  

I was born to do it, said Day.

She went on to perform across the country, including shows in Vegas.

There was a Mexican circus family that literally lived 5 minutes from my house. They had this huge tent pitched on this big open land,” said Day.

Once her circus days were over, her dream then became to open up a gym. Seven years ago she and her husband opened a circus school in Salt Lake called Aeries.

It was all in hopes of giving others the chance to learn the difficult aerial maneuvers.

You are like a superhuman, and it’s awesome to have these superhuman capabilities. If you think the splits are hard, just (multiply the difficulty) by 50, said Day. 

It wasn’t about having students run off and joining the circus for Day. Her mission was also about helping to change kids’ lives.

That’s why Day started her nonprofit organization, called 90 & 9 – all in the name of mental health and suicide prevention among youth. Darla has set up workshops at treatments centers and schools.

“It teaches them discipline. It teaches them self-worth and self-value. It teaches them to connect and trust each other – because literally in some tricks, your life depends on someone else holding you. 

One of those troubled youth is 22-year-old Brittany Brown – a bubbly and musically talented artist who tried to end her life twice.

“I’m a goofy, happy person. I was always the class clown and everything, and then I would go home and I would just cry and say, ‘I don’t know why I feel so awful. Everything is going right in my life. I’m so blessed, but I feel so bad inside,’” said Brown. 

Brown said the program has given her new hope. 

It’s just a place to come and be safe and be free, and just focus my mind on that. It’s my therapy,” she said.

Part of that therapy is now passing along a message of hope to others who may be struggling. Her main message – don’t hold it in. Get help. 

“Reach out. Nothing is ever going to happen if you just hold it all in,” said Brown.

The students have been preparing to showcase their talents in a performance called “Fighter” at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City.

That starts Thursday, August 8 and goes through Saturday, August 10.

Tickets are available through Art Tix. For more information on that event and others, go to 90and9.com

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UP CLOSE: Utah ‘Circus School’ Fulfills Dreams, Saves Lives