It´s easy.. If you are motivated, open minded, creative, have a sense of humor and you have a paraclimber, who is ready to experience rock climbing.
Probably there is more than one way to start and what we can do to help, is to share our path and lessons.
- In the idea phase we were excited but also quite afraid to do things wrong. Seemed that we (trainers) all wanted to go back to uni and study Special Education or smth similar to prepare for paraclimbing. TRUTH: yes, of course its always good to study smth new, but you can start without special education as well. As a first step we were lucky to have Andy, an experienced guy from Liverpool, who knows much about paraclimbing. He was and still is a big mentor for us.
- Disability part: Our main takeaway from the first meeting with him was that we need to take everyone as individuals, as people are unique, even though if we are comparing two blind people. There is no structure/specific guidelines for climbing session for different disabilities. You have to get to know the climber and make agreements how to organize that session.
- Technical part: we took a course in England to learn different rope techniques what to combine for different climbers. Course gave a great variety of tools to have freedom and confidence to face all the youngsters (even paralyzed..).
- To gain some practice and confidence with working alone (away from Andy´s eyes), we decided to start with blind youngsters. Truth was that it is hard to find just blind or partially sighted youngsters, many of them had multiple disabilities (e.g. physical or mental as well). We still managed very well:)
- Today we have dealt with blind, deaf, autist and welcome everyone else as well to climbing session!