Copyright © 2018-
Valley Center for the Blind is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that focuses on improving and enhancing the lives of people with vision loss in California’s Central Valley.
3417 W. Shaw Ave. Fresno, CA 93711
Telephone: (559) 222-
Fax: (559) 222-
ROCKCLIMBING AT METALMARK
In early November, program participants and staff of Valley Center for the Blind (VCB) were invited by the MetalMark Climbing and Fitness Team to visit their gym and try rock climbing.
Our group was enthused about trying something new, but for many of us rock climbing was something we had never tried before. All the staffers at MetalMark did an excellent job at easing our concerns about climbing for the first time and made sure everyone had an opportunity to scale the large 40+ foot walls.
“What’s great about rock climbing is that you’re able to test your talents,” said Matt Sidlinger, a program participant and now newest staff member at VCB. “These outtings are also a great way for our participants to come out and make new friends even if they may not want to rock climb. But be assured that the staff at MetalMark are very friendly. MetalMark also has adaptive sports, so their staff knows how to work with people who are visually impaired,” he said.
VCB is so thankful to have partnered with MetalMark! The partnership has led to our participants and staff learning more about rock climbing, and the MetalMark team has been able to learn more about residents in the Valley who are experiencing vision loss. MetalMark staff members, Nikita and Rebecca, shared with us what they learned during the event.
VCB Staff: This is the second rock climbing event that MetalMark hosted where VCB staff and clients were invited to participate. How did this activity with VCB come about?
MM Staff, Nikita: I had worked with VCB in the summer when they visited for the first time. I befriended a client and intern at VCB, who informed me of the Striding Beyond Sight 5K event, which was held in October. I decided to volunteer at the 5K, which is where I met more VCB participants who were interested in rock climbing. I spoke with my manager, Marie Garringer, and we were able to extend the idea of a casual climbing afternoon into a full outreach event.
VCB Staff: Prior to coordinating with VCB, had MetalMark staff worked with people with visual impairments in rock climbing activities?
MM Staff, Nikita: MetalMark had worked with Valley Children's Hospital Adaptive Sports prior to working with VCB, however this was the gym's first exposure to working with participants with visual impairments.
VCB Staff: What’s the experience like for you and staff in hosting people with vision loss and helping them with their first time at rock climbing? What are some of the things you’ve learned in helping people with vision loss conquer rock climbing?
MM Staff, Rebecca: Rock climbing is often a very challenging experience for first timers, with or without sight. The VCB participants who wanted to try rock climbing for the first time showed up and despite their vision loss, allowed strangers to tie them into a harness and ropes. That is incredibly brave in my book. Not only did VCB participants go for it when it was time to climb, they followed directions, trusted MetalMark staff and were resilient, not giving up! They found hand and foot holds quickly, and I was able to witness vast improvements in their climbing technique within the hour.
I learned how to better assist those with vision loss when I decided to try climbing without sight myself. Climbing without sight takes more time than climbing with sight and it requires overcoming muscle fatigue, as you hold onto the wall and look for the next hold. In order to help visually impaired climbers, I tried to give clear directions to the next available hand and foot holds.
VCB Staff: What do you hope the public, or sighted people, who rock climb at MetalMark learn about people with vision loss?
MM Staff, Nikita: My hope is that the general public, including climbers at MetalMark, will develop a greater awareness and understanding of how they might assist those with vision loss, without making assumptions about disability. I would enjoy seeing individuals in the community develop heightened understanding of what people with vision loss are capable of doing.
VCB Staff: People who are either sighted or non-
MM Staff, Rebecca: Just try it! You'll never know whether or not you like something until you try it. Climbing will challenge you physically and mentally and if you allow it, it can help increase your strength and help you overcome fears.
In the future, VCB hopes that we will have more climbing sessions at MetalMark and we cannot thank them enough for hosting us! For more information about MetalMark Climbing and Fitness, you can visit their website at: https://touchstoneclimbing.com/metalmark/
If you are interested in being a participant or volunteer for our next event, let us know by contacting us through our website or give us a call at (559) 222-