Free rock climbing courses for visually impaired people at The Westway Climbing Centre

BY YANN TEAR
yann@slpmedia.co.uk

West London’s famous climbing centre has teamed up with a charity which promotes sport for the blind to offer courses for the visually impaired.

The Westway Climbing Centre has teamed up with Metro Blind Sport to offer a six-week climbing course to help more blind and partially sighted people get into the sport.

Once completed, this free course, which has been funded by the Active Londoners Fund, will enable those who are blind and partially sighted to climb independently.

All Westway climbing instructors have gone through visual awareness training, to ensure proper delivery of the tests.

Climbers will have 12 hours of coaching, in order for them to pass their rope test.

“We’re delighted to be working with Metro Blind Sport on this project,” said Jez Tapping, head of climbing at Westway Climbing Centre, in Crowthorne Road, Notting Hill, which is operated by Everyone Active in partnership with Westway Trust.

“There is a lot of research that shows increased feelings of loneliness, isolation and depression following diagnosis of sight-loss.

The rock climbing classes start this week

“We hope that by being able to offer this programme we can give those who are blind or partially sighted the confidence to engage in physical activity and try a new sport.”

Charlie Raven, sports development officer for Metro Blind Sport, said: “Our aim is to provide as many physical activity opportunities for our members as possible, and climbing is an exciting addition.

“On top of the many social, mental and health benefits we hope that this project will deliver to individuals, it is a perfect example of partnership working.

“By providing visual awareness training to many staff at Westway Climbing Centre, they will be better prepared to positively engage with future participants with sight loss.

We are extremely grateful to the Active Londoners Fund for their support.”

Participants will be monitored before and after to assess their physical activity and assess feelings towards physical activity and mental wellbeing.

If the programme is successful, it will become a regular event.

More than two million people in the UK live with sight loss, with 194,000 people in London alone, which causes a significant impact on their life.

A recent survey by Sport England has shown that more than half of people with a visual impairment are inactive, achieving less than 30 minutes per week, and a number of barriers face blind and partially sighted people when accessing sport or physical activity.

The courses begin tomorrow and on Sunday.

For more information, call Westway Climbing Centre on 020 8969 0992 or visit www.everyoneactive.com/westway-climbing

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