REXBURG — In just two weeks, eastern Idaho’s special needs community will be able to experience the thrill and fun of rock climbing — for free!
The Idaho-based organization Courageous Kids Climbing is a nonprofit group that wants to give people with special needs the opportunity to have fun through rock climbing.
The closest Courageous Kids event will be in Rexburg, at The Rock Gym, and will be held April 19 at 3 p.m. If you are interested in participating, a reservation is required. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a registration packet.
“For people with special needs, rock wall climbing has helped enhance focusing, refine problem-solving skills, improves coordination and builds confidence while lessening the fear of heights,” a press release from Courageous Kids said. “For those individuals with physical challenges, the event will take the courageous climber out of the horizontal world and let them experience the vertical world firsthand.”
The group travels across the western United States to locations with the proper equipment needed to help anyone climb safely and have a brand new experience.
One of the creators of the event, Jeff Riechmann, explained that the idea just came from a couple of friends and has really taken off.
“A friend of mine and myself we were sitting around the one burning stove, talking about climbing and how we could give back to the community,” he told EastIdahoNews.com. “And in about 17 minutes we came up with this concept.”
Their first event was in 2014. Since then, they have conducted 73 events at 34 different venues with 782 participants.
These activities are a yearly tradition. Unfortunately, many of last year’s events were cancelled. However, for 2021, the following events have been scheduled throughout many states:
- Auburn (Seattle), Washington (YMCA) – June 5, noon to 2 p.m.
- Bakersfield, California (Action Sports) – April 17, 10 a.m. to noon
- Boise, Idaho (Wings Center) – May 16, 10 a.m. to noon.
- Boise, Idaho (Downtown YMCA) – September 11, 10 a.m. to noon
- Bothell (Seattle), Washington (YMCA) – June 6, noon to 2 p.m.
- Driggs, Idaho (Teton Rock Gym) – October 23, 10 a.m. to noon
- Ellensburg, Washington (CWU Climbing Center) – September, 18 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
- Henderson, Nevada (The Pad Climbing) – November 6, 10 a.m. to noon
- Las Vegas, Nevada (Nevada Climbing Center) – April 18, 10 a.m. to noon
- Longbranch, Washington (YMCA Camp Colman) – September 19, 10 a.m. to noon
- McCall, Idaho (Camp Pinewood) – May 22 (Sponsored by Krahn Home Furnishings) 10:00 am to noon
- Moscow, Idaho (UI Climbing Center) – May 1, 10 a.m. to noon. This event is being organized by students at the UI Centers for Disabilities and Human Development.
- Prescott, Arizona (Gripstone Climbing) – November 7, 10 a.m. to noon
- Pullman, Washington (WSU Climbing Center) – September 26, 9 a.m. to noon
- Rexburg, Idaho (The Rock Gym – Rexburg) – April 19, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- Spokane, Washington (Wild Walls) – April 24, 10 a.m. to noon
- Spokane Valley, Washington (YMCA) – September 25, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
- Twin Falls, Idaho (Gemstone Climbing) – May 15 and Sept.12, 1 p.m. to 3:00 pm
- Wenatchee, Washington (Riverfront Climbing) – April 25, 10 a.m. to noon
Many of the events are sponsored by first responders because it gives them the experience of working with special needs individuals and preparing for emergencies. It also creates good memories with men and women in uniform.
“We told the firefighters, just wear your rescue harnesses, and tell the kids, ‘Look, when you guys are climbing, you wear a harness just like I wear when I’m doing my job,’” Riechmann explained. “It’s the exact same type of system that they would use if they’re rescuing somebody off the cliff or off the side of a high-rise building, so it’s practice.”
Though it’s great for the first responders, Jeff said the real prize is watching those with special needs and their families experience this opportunity.
“In almost every single event that I put on, I’ve seen a mother or father with tears in their eyes,” he said. “They come up to me and they tell me, ‘I never thought my child could do this.’”
To be updated on their events, check out their Facebook Page.