By Gareth Shoulder @GarethShoulder
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Videographer / director: Dennis Porter
Producer: Gareth Shoulder, Ruby Coote
Editor: Sonia Estal
Aerial silks performer Erin Ball, 39, began an accessible training academy for mixed-ability students after losing both her lower legs to frostbite in 2014.
After getting lost in the woods near her home in Kingston, Ontario, a police dog found her six days later in the freezing cold, unconscious and fighting for her life.
Doctors were forced to amputate her damaged feet and part of her lower legs. The 39-year-old admits she struggled with depression after the surgery.
Erin told Barcroft TV: “It was the end of the road when I went into the woods, I was completely lost.
“I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going, I sat down and didn’t know what to do.
“When I went to get up, I couldn’t feel my feet, they had gotten really wet because I had walked through snow.
“I started to panic and scream for help, obviously nobody came, I don’t remember anything after that.”
Erin’s mother, Kathleen Ball said: “I remember it was a Thursday, I received a phone call from the police.
“They said they think they found her, and they’ll be flying her in by helicopter.”
Erin spent the year following her surgery withdrawn, isolated and in bed wishing she would die.
Before losing her legs, Erin had spent several years as a circus arts performer, specialising in acrobatics and aerials.
Erin explained: “I started learning circus about 11 years ago and I just loved it. I discovered aerial arts and was just completely hooked.
“When I perform in front of people, I feel excited, nervous and like it’s where I should be.
“Acrobatics plays a huge role, if I am not doing it or teaching it, I’m thinking about it.”
Desperately wanting to return to the performing art she once loved, Erin was unsure if it was even possible.
Erin said: “It felt like my circus career was over.
“I didn’t know anybody who was in the disabled community.
“All I knew about disability and using wheelchairs was that it was bad. I feel that was the message that was put out in a lot of society.”
Erin began physiotherapy and decided to learn to walk again.
She recognised the additional psychological benefits practising circus skills gave her, this inspired her to open a school to teach other people acrobatics.
One student, Emma Aslett said: “When I started two and a half years ago with circus, I was pretty much a wreck.
“I wasn’t really functioning that well and since starting circus it gave me a creative outlet, a physical outlet, a family and a home.
“It’s made me realise I’m capable of so much.”