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Published: May 12, 2018
Reaching for the Sky With Adaptive Climbing


by Gabe Taylor


If you haven’t heard of adaptive climbing, you’re really missing out on something cool. Adaptive recreation is a blanket term for any kind of recreational activity that is modified in a way that makes it possible for people with disabilities to participate in activities that they otherwise would be unable to. In the case of adaptive climbing, participants rope in and climb up an indoor climbing wall, pretty much like anyone else would. By using slightly modified equipment and a little help from volunteers, voila! A whole new world opens to someone with a disability.

With a little help from a grant and a group of inspired individuals, The IC’s Development department was able to secure the funding necessary to rent out a climbing wall at City Rock on a cool day in January. Achilles Pikes Peak, a local non-profit The IC regularly works with on recreational adventures, was there to show everyone the ropes – pun intended.

The atmosphere was electric as one-by-one, everyone had a chance to try out climbing. As people left their walkers and wheelchairs on the floor below, they ascended to a new sense of freedom. A few of the more adventurous climbers ventured away from the designated climbing wall, and tried their luck at more difficult routes. The IC’s Tim Ashley, who is a person with quadriplegia himself, and who oversees The IC’s Adaptive Recreation program, was clearly elated to see the Adaptive Recreation group experiencing something new and having so much fun in the process. You can see the smile on his face as one after one, his group scales the wall.

He tells me “Witnessing so many consumers willing to get away from their comfort zone and putting forth great effort to attempt an adventure they never thought possible was so stimulating to me.” And that’s what is at the core of adaptive recreation. He goes on to say, “For many, experiences like this present an opportunity to exit the isolation of home and collaborate with others as they participate in physical activities which promote holistic health and wellness”.

Far too many people with disabilities are told what they can’t do, but the real story is what they can do. Sure, abilities can be
different, but with a little understanding and accommodation, the sky is the limit. So if you have a dream, embrace the challenge and give adaptive recreation a try.

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