Social Climbing - The Programme Breaking Down Barriers For Young People In Munich
In 2008, a physiotherapist in Germany took a client to a climbing wall. Linda was 14 years old and used a wheelchair, but she was undaunted by the towering structure in front of her. She looked up at the routes of coloured holds dotted up the hard, angular, grey surface and said: ‘Ich will da rauf.’ It means: “I want to get up there.”
Within 12 months, Ich Will Da Rauf was born: a climbing community aimed at young people, with inclusivity at its centre, formed by Linda, her parents and her coach.
For 11 years, it has fulfilled its mission – providing opportunity and community for people with and without disabilities.
“It's not about having groups with disabilities, like that’s something special,” explained Mike Hartmann, a board member at IWDR. “It's the togetherness that's the most important part. Not pointing out that ‘you are different, you can't do this’. It's togetherness and it's the self-confidence for people with disabilities because climbing is not that easy for anybody!
“It’s also good for the kids without disabilities to see there is nothing so strange about the kids who have a disability. It's totally normal. Normal people living together, working together, having fun together.”
The project was recognised for its success in its mission by the European Commission, who presented Ich Will Da Rauf with its #BeInclusive award – and a prize of €10,000 – at a ceremony in Brussels in 2019.
IWDR is also supported by Laureus Sport For Good, who could hardly have designed a more apt project to illustrate its Everyone Wins campaign, which promotes the idea that when sport helps young people to defeat violence and inequality, everyone wins.
In this case, an innovative and inclusive sport programme has knocked down societal barriers between young people with and without disabilities, at the same time as providing all groups with access to and coaching in a discipline with myriad benefits to both physical and mental health.
Maja is 16 and has been attending IWDR for three years. “I actually didn’t know that this existed for people with disabilities,” she said. “I just came here for a taster because a friend of mine from school used to come here, and always raved about climbing. So, I told my mother, ‘Mum, I really want to go climbing’ and since then, I’ve been climbing here.
“I know that there are many other people with disabilities – I’m not the only one here – and I also have contact with others, people I meet, who I didn’t know before – it’s something different.”