When you’re on the climbing wall, it can feel like it’s just you and the challenge ahead. That sense of independence comes from the support of a community though. Tied to the belayer on the ground and linked to the community that comes together to keep reaching for the next hold, climbing finds a balance between solo pursuit and community adventure.

Helping more people create an inclusive space was exactly the intention of a recent workshop with Power To Be and Canucks Autism Network, supported by MEC. Hosted in Vancouver, the Supporting Individuals with Autism and Diversabilities in the Climbing Community workshop was attended by 40 individuals from the non-profit, climbing, business and government sectors.

“Our hearts were so full to see this community show up so eager to learn more about supporting inclusive environments,” says Stephanie Jull, CAN VP of Programs, Training and Community Engagement. “Everyone was so keen to learn and walked away with some practical strategies to implement right away.”

Those skills ranged from how to physically set up an inclusive space with equipment to how to engage people through supportive language to feel comfortable on the space.  Power To Be offers access to a variety of gear such as sitting, chest or full-body harnesses. On the wall, tips were shared for keeping participants engaged and motivated to climb. Different strategies to incorporate games or have peers climb near each other for encouragement can help people stay focused on the wall, says Carinna Kenigsberg, Power To Be Manager of Community Partnerships.

“With support from MEC, through their efforts through their Diversity Campaign, CAN and Power To Be have offered perspective around broadening what inclusion and diversity means,” Carinna says. “We are also creating opportunity to build capacity and skill set in our community and adventure-based industries.”

The workshop was part of a five-week partnership that includes a weekly climbing program for participants on the autism spectrum. Learn more about how Power To Be provides inclusive climbing adventures.