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Pip Climbs Her Mountain

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:

Video not displaying? Watch on YouTube using this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxYl_Z_GQTw&t=387s&ab_channel=BendriggTrust

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.

Fresh challenges

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.

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