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Innovation Award


We're proud to announce we have won the 2017 Innovation Award from the Sports and Recreation Alliance for our Inclusive Climbing programme. Here's Sophie's story about the project and where it's headed...

Sophie Teaching

Photo: Sophie running a session with Simon

Climbing isn’t a competitive sport at ground level; it’s an individual sport. It presents a unique physical challenge for the participant, and through this individuality comes community. All abilities can climb together in a social group, attaining the same physical and mental benefits while climbing at different levels.

This forms the premise for our inclusive climbing programme – people with disabilities can face a lot of challenges to participation in sport, finding few opportunities to join a club or access facilities and ultimately missing out on the positive effects fitness and recreation can have on health and well-being. Over the past four years Sophie, one of our instructors, has been developing a programme that offers rock climbing sessions to children and adults with physical and/or learning disabilities. 

The programme orientates itself toward inclusivity, providing a service for those less catered for.  Opening up the sport to individuals with physical and mental disabilities we’re seeing a whole new side to climbing. While it’s no secret climbing is physically challenging, the therapeutic attributes have been magnified. Improvement to muscle spasticity, endurance and balance are among the countless physical benefits.  By breaking down the activity of climbing into basics – hand to eye coordination, transfer of weight, muscle strength and so on – we’re seeing climbing as a form of physical therapy. To date there have been improvements seen through regular attendance for those with Cerebral Palsy, ACC and muscle weakness related to the effects of Autism.

Aside from this physical challenge, most climbers will also recognise the mental demand – climbing is an exercise in problem solving and communication. Each session emphasises learned repetitive behaviour and we’re working to improve cognitive effects such as concentration, attention, perceptions, planning, memory and judgement.  Behavioural effects like fatigue, anxiety, agitation, mood swings and depression can all be helped by challenging and succeeding. Setting achievable goals and working out problems is not always about getting to the top. 

The programme has culminated in the Castle winning the Sport and Recreation Alliance award for Innovation. This organisation is a champion for all the benefits sport and recreation can bring to people’s lives. Incredibly grateful for this opportunity, it seem a fitting way celebrate the achievements of those involved in the programme. 

Sophie, Harry & Earl Wessex

Photo: Sophie and Harry, one of our clients, meeting HRH The Earl of Wessex to accept the award

What does the future hold?

There are numerous avenues to explore; the funds from the award will be used to approach a cerebral palsy school offering group climbing sessions, introducing the programme to a new sector of the community. Other plans include partnership with other organisations and group sessions for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds in London; the goal being improvement to socio-economic prospects, development of skills and confidence building.  

Want to read more about the award? Check out the Sport and Recreation Alliance’s website and blog

Here's some short vid's from Simon one of our clients talking about his experiences!