For a young carer, finding time to fit in exercise around everyday duties and homework is an enormous challenge. But it’s one 15-year-old Bethan from Rhyl, North Wales, has tackled head-on.
She has set up karate classes for other young people in the same situation as her.
Since she was five, Bethan has helped her dad Garry care for her mum, Julie, who suffers with severe epilepsy. Bethan started taking part in karate classes when she was seven.
Her parents had introduced her to the sport as a means of helping her to focus on other areas away from her responsibilities at home.
The teenager has since achieved her black belt, gained her instructor’s badge and received a Point of Light Award from Prime Minister Theresa May.
When she was 12 she came up with the idea of running karate classes for other youngsters who are carers too.
Over the past three years the popularity of her idea has grown and grown – with the not-for-profit club she runs now providing a focal point for the young carer community in her area of Wales.
Any money that comes in is poured straight back into the organisation and is used by Bethan to fund extra activities such as award nights. The Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan pupil currently teaches children aged six to nine.
“To actually do this at such a young age, she is an inspiration,” says Lorna Fenwick, of Wrexham, Conwy and Denbighshire Young Carers Project.
Dad Garry said: “We couldn’t be more proud of Bethan. She has gone through so much but, through her karate training, she has been able to help so many people in the community. She takes everything in her stride. Bethan’s granddad, Kenneth, helps with funding the club and has never yet missed an event.”
Bethan adds: “Karate has given me so many opportunities. Unfortunately my mum’s illness will never go away but I am so glad I can help other people.”