“Elliot feels safe with his instructor and is comfortable in the bright and spacious environment at Summit Up”

Climbing has the potential to be a fully inclusive activity that can provide all disabled children and young people with an opportunity to get active. A range of adaptive equipment means a climbing wall can be accessible for disabled young people.

Despite this potential, the climbing industry is not seen as inclusive and there aren’t many commercial venues for disabled climbers. Building on Access Sport’s existing work in climbing, we have started to explore working with more climbing centres to upskill their staff and support them to provide more inclusive opportunities.

In Manchester, we provided the staff team at Summit Up with Disability Inclusion training and connected the team with local Special Educational Needs schools and groups involved in our wider Changing Places Manchester projects.

The Summit Up Centre Manager said:

“With our centre participating in the training, we have upskilled our staff in more inclusive aspects, rather than just the physical approach to sessions. It has changed the mindset of our team to look at the way we approach advertising, signage, communication with participants, and the understanding of different avenues of inclusive progression.”

Through our support, Summit Up now has regular inclusive sessions throughout the year, with both Special Educational Needs schools and disabled climbers attending public sessions. They have provided a benchmark for other centres to reach, and we now have several more venues that would like to work with us.

Elliot is a climber at Summit Up. He has a condition called CHARGE syndrome. This means he is profoundly deaf and has severe communication and learning disabilities. Elliot is unable to speak and communicates through simple sign language.

Access Sport’s Senior Development Manager, Sarah, is very experienced with people with complex needs. Through Sarah’s one-to-one coaching and the wider training we have run at Summit Up, Elliot has started to climb regularly and feels a real sense of belonging at the climbing centre.

Angela Sutton, Elliot’s Mum, said: 
“Elliot feels safe with his instructor and is comfortable in the bright and spacious environment at Summit Up”.

The shift in culture at the centre has created an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere for all. One parent explained that her son is seen as just a “climber” rather than a disabled person, and he is fully included and accepted into a community.