TWIN FALLS — Having the ability to climb a large rock or tree is something many people take for granted. To ensure everyone can receive the thrill of reaching new heights, Gemstone Climbing Center is offering an Adaptive Climbing Program.
The program is specially designed for individuals living with physical disabilities. The program serves as an effective method to stimulate muscle use, increase strength, and provide a form of physical therapy.
The program was started in late 2019 and has managed to gain more popularity over these past several months. Over 60 participants attend these classes which are offered on three Mondays and one Saturday of each month.
What makes this program so unique is that it's one of the few adaptive sports classes offered in the South Central Idaho Region.
“For kids to get the experience to go vertical, to be able to get out of a wheelchair and onto the wall or to leave the ground for the first time is tremendous to watch," said Kandice Johnsons, the Adaptive Program Director. "It’s just a good experience for them.”
The main benefit is these individuals get the chance to be active and participate in a physically demanding activity. However, by attending these classes, many of these individuals learn far more than just being able to climb.
“Overcoming fears, overcoming hardship, overcoming hurdles, and then socially. We have different volunteers in here every day, different climbers, we encourage our climbers to watch each other. So it just hits every single level,” said Johnson.
Matthew Weibert's 22-year-old son, Ty, who has cerebral palsy, has been attending these classes for the past two months. Ty has a massive interest in sports and enjoys Basketball and Bowling. His father is proud to see him get even more active and see such quick progress in his climbing abilities.
“We’re getting more consistent with how he’s climbing and then as well as his descent, as far as him propelling down off the wall, bouncing, he didn’t use to be able to do that," said Matthew Weibert. "Within the last three sessions he’s been able to grab the rope and confidently make small little bounces, so he’s been making great improvement.”
Matthew Weibert also credits the staff, which consists of only volunteers, for making everyone feel involved and being able to bring the best out of those who participate.
“The amount of things we’ve gone to over the years with staff and helpers, sometimes you get those who just don’t have drive or love for it or desire for it. The helpers here have been great. They’re right alongside him, encouraging him, and helping him along to push himself and do better,” said Weibert.