It’s been a fairly calm month or so since my last post after ABS Youth Nationals. Rope season is just starting up, and regionals are in about three weeks, so I’ve been attending some local comps and training pretty hard. The school year is also beginning to wind down, which means a lot of work being crammed into a short period of time. Aside from this, my school asks that its students complete eight hours of community service hours as another part of its curriculum. I started working with the organization Peak Potential in November of 2011 as a way of fulfilling that service requirement, but now I don’t really see it as just a way of getting the hours I need. I first heard about the program from some friends, and I train fairly regularly at the gym where it is located, so I decided to look into it. I went to a session to see what it was like, and ever since I have been volunteering at the program weekly.
Peak Potential is run by a group of climbers who are looking to allow everyone to experience the joy and freedom climbing can give, even if it seems like a physical difficulty might get in the way. The organization works with kids who have muscular, neurological, or developmental differences or disabilities such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and myelodysplasia. They meet twice a week, usually with between three and four kids attending per session. The program runs in sessions, and is a way of both helping the kids push themselves physically and mentally, and letting them experience the unique atmosphere of rock climbing. The way it runs generally involves three volunteers per child: one to belay the kid, one to climb with the kid and help them as needed, and one to belay the climber. After that, a lot comes down to the kid- how much weight they can put on their bodies and limbs, coordination, and other variables. The program is very adaptive to the uniqueness of each kid; some kids are doing actual, taped routes, while others are working to get a certain number of climbs in a day, and others are just trying to climb. It is a great program, and incredibly rewarding to be able to help another kid participate in something that is such a big part of my life. I have more than finished the service hours I need for my school, but I still go to the program almost every week. It is really fun, and really inspiring to see these kids climbing and working as hard as they are. It is great motivation for me as a climber as well.
I think it is really cool that programs like Peak Potential exist to help everyone experience climbing, and everything it can give. I am going to continue to volunteer with them for as long as I can, and I hope that other programs like this continue to spring up around the country, or even internationally. For anyone who is interested, their website is http://www.peakclimb.org. Also, thanks to Five Ten for the shoes and support; all their products are great, and the Anasazi shoes especially are awesome for working with the kids at Peak Potential.