Childrens Mental Health Week 2024Today marks the start of Children's Mental Health Week 2024, and NICAS is proud to help shine a light on the importance of children and young people's mental health. This year's theme for Children's Mental Health Week is "My Voice Matters". We believe every young person should experience being heard and valued - in their NICAS sessions and beyond.

At NICAS, we're committed to empowering coaches at our centres to create a space that's not just safe and inclusive but where all participants feels comfortable expressing themselves. We encourage climbing coaches and other NICAS personnel to take a look through these resources:

  • Spread the word and find out more about Children's Mental Health Week:
  • Play Their Way is all about listening to children in coaching. It aims to kick-start a movement of child-first coaches, organisations and people across the country to get more children active and enjoying exercise! Find out more:
  • Sport in Mind is a UK-based charity that focuses on using sport and physical activity to promote mental health and well-being. They aim to raise awareness of the benefits of sports participation for mental health and provide support and opportunities for individuals experiencing mental health challenges. Find out more:
  • Coach Development: If your accredited centre is interested in a NICAS workshop to explore child-first coaching, inclusivity, gamification and tools to foster confidence and independence, please get in touch.

6 Reasons NICAS is brilliant for Children's Mental Health

We're sure you're aware that climbing offers not only a physical challenge but has also been proven to contribute to improved mental health. So no prizes for guessing that NICAS can be hugely beneficial for the health and wellbeing of young people on our schemes! Here's six key reasons why NICAS sessions significantly contribute to the mental health of our fantastic learners:

  • Reducing Stress and Boosting Endorphins
    Climbing isn't just a fantastic workout for your muscles - it's a stress-buster too! As you conquer those routes, your body releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones that help reduce stress and elevate your mood. Climbing also requires a high level of focus, which means your mind has to work hard to stay in the moment when you’re on the wall. Other problems fall away, reducing anxiety and improving decision-making skills.

  • Building Self-Confidence
    With every route tackled or new skill learned, young climbers build a strong sense of achievement, boosting their self-confidence. Our coaches encourage collaboration and teamwork, fostering an atmosphere where young climbers can speak up, share ideas, and work together to overcome obstacles. This newfound confidence doesn't stay on the climbing wall – it translates into everyday life, empowering them to tackle challenges head-on.

  • Encouraging Independence
    At NICAS, independence is not just encouraged, it's built into our syllabus. The structure and progressive nature of learning through NICAS is designed to create competent, confident, and independent climbers.

  • Sharpening Problem-Solving Skills
    Climbing is not just a physical challenge; it's a mental workout too. Figuring out the best moves, planning your route, and adapting as you climb all require strategic thinking and adaptability. This gives your brain - and your mental health - a boost, as well as providing a sense of accomplishment. And better problem-solving skills gained through climbing contribute to improved resilience and a positive mindset as well.

  • Feeling more connected
    Giving young people the opportunity to socialise in a safe and fun environment is a huge part of what makes NICAS so successful. Taking part in NICAS sessions helps young people connect to - and feel more connected to - others who share their interests, allowing friendships to grow and creating a sense of belonging. Session goals set by NICAS coaches often encourage communication and teamwork, reducing feelings of isolation and creating a supportive social network that contributes to overall mental well-being.

  • It's Super Fun!
    It could be the thrill of getting to the top, a lightbulb moment when you figure out a gnarly problem, the joy of moving your body, or just happy times at the wall with friends. Or it could be the crazy, silly warm-ups and games that NICAS coaches share with their learners. More fun equals less stress, and better coping and resilience!

So, a big thanks for listening - but a bigger thanks to the incredible coaches at our accredited centres for all the training, preparation and planning that goes into running their NICAS sessions. Here at NICAS HQ, we're always so pleased to hear direct from parents, coaches and centre managers about the positive impact that taking part in NICAS is having on young people's mental health.

Published: 5 February 2024

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