Green Mountain Adaptive Sports sponsored a two-day workshop for indoor rock climbing coaches and volunteers to foster the inclusion of athletes with disabilities in their programs. Coaches representing five rock climbing gyms (MetroRock, StoweRocks, Elevate, Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center, and MetroRock Littleton) participated along with volunteers who will be working with the gyms’ adaptive climbers.

The training was presented by clinicians from Experiential Systems. Carla Hacker and Andy Brash led the group in exploring the philosophy and concepts of Universal Access in a series of stimulating and thought-provoking activities that provided a foundation for establishing successful adaptive programs. The clinic also included hands-on climbing wall practice simulating a number of common disabilities and specialized rigging techniques. 

MetroRock in Essex hosted the clinic. Boof Bugher, the facility manager commented afterward, “The Experiential Systems adaptive climbing clinic was an amazing opportunity to learn new strategies and rope system management as well make new connections that will help us continue to grow access to adaptive climbing in Vermont.”

Rock Climbing WorkshopSince the workshop, MetroRock has introduced two groups of ten adaptive climbers each from the New School in Montpelier to indoor rock climbing at their facility. The coaches and volunteers helped everyone achieve a successful climb, and they are looking forward to welcoming many more groups and individuals with disabilities in the future.

Julia Talbot, a climbing instructor at MetroRock who oversaw the New School activities said, “It was such an eye-opening experience to sit down and discuss our sport with other professionals. The group discussions allowed me to walk away with information that I could immediately implement into our programs. Getting the opportunity to work hands-on with adaptive equipment made me feel confident in my abilities to make our climbers as comfortable as possible! The instructors were right by our side and created a positive environment to ask questions and challenge ourselves.”  

The workshop was funded by a grant from The Oakland Foundation and a Spark Connecting Community grant from the Vermont Community Foundation. The latter puts building and nurturing community front and center. The Foundation aims to support the work happening throughout Vermont’s 251 towns that builds social capital. These grants – where a small amount can make a big difference – are intended to light the spark that keeps Vermonters healthy and happy. The climbing clinic definitely met and exceeded those expectations!

To view the recording of a short part of the workshop, click here.

To make a donation to support Green Mountain Adaptive Sports in hosting future coaches’ clinics and workshops to help foster the inclusion of athletes with disabilities in their programs, click here.