The Adaptive Sports Fund enabled people with mobility impairments to scale new heights by hosting an adaptive rock climbing event
The Adaptive Sports Fund (ASF) uses adaptive sport and adventure activities to empower people with disabilities. In June, the non-profit invited people with various mobility impairments to join them in an adaptive rock-climbing experience at the City Rock climbing gym in Johannesburg.
Speaking on behalf of the organisation, ASF director Jeff Yates says: “ASF was inspired to host the rock-climbing day as part of our commitment to providing inclusive and empowering outdoor experiences for individuals with disabilities.”
“Rock climbing was chosen specifically because it embodies the spirit of challenge, achievement, and camaraderie. It offers participants a unique opportunity to overcome physical and mental obstacles, building personal growth and self-confidence. It presents various challenges for participants with disabilities, including physical limitations and fear of heights,” Jeff adds.
With the use of adaptive equipment, the experienced adaptive climbing instructors and team at City Rock were able to assist wheelchair users to scale the 16-metre tall indoor rock climbing walls. While the harness provides some stability and support, it is still up to the individual to pull themselves up with the use of their upper body strength – no small feat.
“ASF worked closely with experienced adaptive climbing instructors and provided specialised adaptive equipment to ensure that all participants could safely and confidently engage in the activity,” Jeff says. “Our instructors tailored climbing routes and techniques to accommodate each individual’s abilities, making sure everyone could progress at their own pace and find success in their climbs.”
For some that might have meant a route with the holds (or grips) spaced closer together, while others were able to venture onto more difficult climbs with minimal assistance. For the participants, the feeling of accomplishment after completing the route was unmatched.
Jeff explains: “The participants were particularly enthusiastic about the sense of accomplishment and empowerment they gained from conquering the climbing walls. Many spoke about the exhilaration of reaching the top of a challenging route and the feeling of being part of a supportive community. The day was filled with moments of triumph, laughter, and shared experiences that left everyone with lasting memories.”
“ASF hopes that the participants took away a sense of empowerment, increased self-confidence, and a deeper appreciation for their own capabilities. We also hope they left with new friendships and a sense of belonging to a community that understands and supports their goals and aspirations. Ultimately, we aim for this event to inspire participants to explore other adaptive sports and outdoor activities, further enhancing their quality of life,” he continues.
Through these events, ASF hopes to promote inclusivity of people with disabilities, encourage physical fitness among people with disabilities, and promote personal growth.
“By showcasing the potential of adaptive sports and outdoor activities, we hope to break down barriers and challenge stereotypes. Our goal is to create a more inclusive society where everyone has equal access to recreational opportunities and can lead active, fulfilling lives,” Jeff says.
ASF offers much more than just rock climbing with go-karting, scuba diving, wakeboarding, wheelchair rugby, golfing, rowing, skiing, hand-cycling, mountain biking and para gliding among the many sports it has opened up to people with disabilities. The organisation is continuously looking for more sports to add to its list.
“ASF is constantly working to expand its range of adaptive outdoor events,” Jeff explains. “In the near future, we have plans for an adaptive go-karting event happening on the 30 September. Additionally, we are exploring partnerships with local organisations to offer more diverse and inclusive activities for our members.”
So, how can people get involved? First, you can visit the ASF website and check the events calendar for upcoming events. You can reach out to the organisation through the contact form.
“ASF is always looking for dedicated volunteers, sponsors, and supporters who share our passion for making outdoor experiences accessible to all. Whether as a participant or a volunteer, there are countless opportunities to engage with ASF and contribute to our mission of empowerment through adaptive sports,” Jeff concludes.