One of the big challenges facing organisations putting on para events is deciding how to categorise the endless variety of disabilities to maximise access and fairness for all. It’s a difficult task.
Story and video shared by Dimensions
The decision went against rock climber Pip Rowlands, when ‘learning disabilities’ was removed as a para-climbing category in 2018, forcing her to compete in open events.
One response could have been to complain, or drop out. But Pip – who has severe learning and communication difficulties, autism and cortical visual impairment as a result of the development condition DDX3X syndrome – quickly figured that the best response would be to encourage more people with learning disabilities to take up climbing.
Watch Pip’s video:
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Showing others the ropes
Since then, realising many people with autism and learning difficulties didn’t know that climbing indoors was a safe and accessible sport for them, she has made a film with the Bendrigg Trust, the incredible disability charity that supported Pip to learn to climb. The film won an award from Genetic Alliance UK.
Pip also helped start a learning disability and autism climbing festival.
Climbing has led to other things, too. With new-found confidence on steep ground, Pip is able to walk some of the paths in the Lake District that were formerly inaccessible to her.