Here we have some more success stories from climbers who have benefitted from our Schemes. if you think your child's story would help other parents and climbers then please contact us - we'd love to hear from you.
Amy's story (age 8) “I first went climbing on Mother’s Day 2012 because my Dad saw that "Mums climbed for free" at Climb Rochdale. I then started my NICAS lessons a week after my 7th birthday.

My group are friendly, funny and just nice to be with. We help each other out by telling each other where the holds are and making sure we’re all safe. My instructors are usually Stuart, Heather or Jamie and they’re all nice. They encourage me to climb harder and it’s never boring because there’s something new to try every time and it’s exciting.”
Jack's story (age 17) Dad Neil says: “We often climb together. Jack has achieved his level 3 NICAS and is well on the way to complete his level 4. Over the last year Jack has also started to lead on Trad routes outside and has also completed a couple of long multi-pitch routes with me."

Jack started on NICAS when he was 14, having climbed all through Cubs, Scouts, Explorers and for his Duke of Edinburgh Award. What would he like to do in the future? Neil says:

“He would like to do more Trad climbing and move onto something more difficult or challenging. He has also suggested he would like to go back to the Alps and maybe do some of the larger peaks, namely peaks such as the Monch, Jungfrau and possibly Mont Blanc. It would seem that his overall aspiration is to turn his hand more toward mountaineering – where climbing is part of the overall journey.

From my point of view just being able to share the pleasure of being out in the mountains with Jack is great and being able to share similar challenges and experiences is brilliant – especially now as my regular climbing partner is my son."
Sam's story (age 26)Sam climbing (c) Phil BYoung people with a variety of special requirements are able to embrace the sport of climbing.

26 year old Sam has been coming weekly to Awesome Walls Sheffield for about a year. He is part of a group from Sense - a national charity that provide services for people who are deafblind or sensory impaired and have additional difficulties. It is a key part of the Sense philosophy to have their users involved in physical activities. Sam himself is blind, having no vision whatsoever.

During the first few sessions with Sam and his group we started to get a feel for climbing in the Learning Zone – Awesome Wall’s shorter wall – but Sam’s confidence grew so fast that he rapidly progressed to climbing on the larger 15 to 17.5 metre top rope areas.

Sam has now climbed on a variety of angles from slabs to slight overhangs and is dextrous in his use of holds, being able to recognise side pulls, undercuts etc and use them to his advantage. Although he prefers vertical walls, we have tested his skills on the pockets and tufas of our feature wall, through to slopers or tiny crimps.

After Sam’s keyworker Neil questioned us about climbing related certificates, Dominic (our NICAS co-ordinator) and I contacted NICAS regarding how to modify the scheme with Sam in mind. We altered a few of the criteria and now Sam is working toward his level 1 certificate.

Sam’s Modified NICAS Level 1:
  • Understand when it is and isn’t safe to start climbing
  • Be able to pull a harness up to the correct position, and know when it is correctly tightened
  • Know the difference between being tied in with a figure 8, and a karabine
  • Climb a chosen route (no specific grade) with confidence
  • Descend from a route correctly
  • Be part of a belay chain (bell ringing)
  • Demonstrate consistent safe behaviour
  • Complete 10 climbs of any grade (rainbow)

Our Thursday morning session with the Sense group is one of my favourite sessions of the week. It is truly inspiring to see Sam and the other members of the group, giving their all and progressing week after week. I think Sam likes it too, this week asking Neil if he could still come along during the half term holiday!

For more information, visit the Sense website
Thanks to Awesome Walls Sheffield
Words and Photo: Phil Borodajkewycz

Since Sam completed his Level 1 we've published a guide for centres and coaches.
Climbers and mental health It is well known that exercise benefits mental health as well as physical health. There are many examples of young people who have realised huge benefits to their mental health from the activity of climbing. Have a look at Jake's story and Beth's story to see how climbing helped them to overcome mental health issues. Source: The BMC
NICAS Participation CertificateThe first time your child climbs at a NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering centre they can earn a free participation certificate to show which skills they've already covered. Ask your local centre about these certificates.
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We feel that these certificates are a great way to give some recognition to children and young people for their achievements, and to direct them (and you as parents) towards their potential next steps.

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