Research & Results
I have only just started climbing with The Chalk Effect Climbing Project and came into it with a simple 'have a go' attitude, not realising how I might feel three weeks later. I totally connected with my fearful mind on that first session and was not sure if returning was for me, but how wrong I was! Jordan and his amazing team provide the gentle encouragement and support, instilling a sense of 'can do' within everyone. My mind set is now set to succeed and have fun in the process, which has made it a totally different experience for me. I am even finding this 'go for it' attitude is relating to other things I wish to accomplish in life too. Gratitude also has to go to the sense of connectedness fostered within the group, which helps power you on up the wall even further!
Once again, the climbing session with CHALK enabled me to reach some heady heights I never would have imagined I could before I joined this amazing project. The enthusiasm which resounds within the group each week simply urges you to succeed in anything you try, although I found my limit today. Maybe fatigue played a part, but it didn't change the way I always feel after connecting with others in this way. Thanks once again to Jordan and his team...you motivate and inspire us all.
I want to thank Jordan for his amazing teaching, reassurance, patience and for pushing me to do my best. Climbing has introduced me into a world where building my confidence is possible, by retraining my brain and facing my fears-and beating them. So good for mental health and physical strength! Thanks so much.
It was my second session today. We learnt to belay and tie the ropes safely. The instructor was so patient with me, especially as my brain struggled to grasp the rope tying! I learnt to be more patient with myself and that I need to try and relax and breath when I'm getting anxious about learning new things. Learning is a process and I don't have to be perfect from the get go.
Year 8 has proven to be a tricky year so far for S. As the weeks have turned into months, the happy go lucky boy we know so well and love, seemed to lose more and more of his shine. It's been hard as a parent to witness and even harder for him to experience.
School has been incredibly hard, feeling squashed and not celebrated as an individual, friendships becoming more complex. S withdrew from his football team and stopped socialising with his friends. The little after school grumble about his day became something that developed into absolute dread and despair for him. The decline in S's wellbeing and presentation was really worrying. His self esteem and confidence was really low.
I'd been asking him on and off for around 9 months if he wanted to try climbing but it never went anywhere, and I didn't want to push it. Things had gotten pretty bad and I was feeling at a complete loss. In January I saw Chalk had advertised their young people's sessions again so I thought I'd try my luck and made the offer to S. To my surprise he agreed!
As soon as we pulled up he quickly changed his mind and said 'It's not the clip and climb!' We agreed to just go in and have a look. He was really angry, scared and nervous. As soon as we talked through the door we were met with the most beautiful welcome of warmth and kindness. S reluctantly agreed to climb, telling me how much he didn't like heights, new people, and kept giving me 'the look' of disapproval. We left that evening and he told me wasn't going back, it wasn't 'his thing'.
The following week I posed the question again 'Do you want to go climbing tonight?' and he agreed. Yet again, walking through the doors we were met with the warmest, friendliest, welcome. Like meeting old friends you haven't seen for ages but when you do you instantly feel warm, just like it was yesterday.
I could see S's confidence growing as he embarked on tricker climbs, and how the support of Jordan and his team, and that of the other young people attending, with encouragement and recognition of effort, was really powerful. Witnessing peer on peer support as young people helped one another, with belaying and using equipment, it was absolutely beautiful. We left that night, his words were 'That was really fun!'
He's not looked back and has returned every week since then! Chalk has given S a place of belonging in a world that feels really tricky to navigate as a 12 year old boy. It's given him space to develop confidence, overcome challenges and fears, and feel a great sense of achievement. It's given him the space to be himself and to be completely accepted and celebrated as he is. He's learnt new skills, found a new source of joy, and made new connections with others.
S really wanted me to give it a go. I won't lie, I was sceptical at first. I wasn't sure it was 'my thing' either - though I was intrigued as I could see how powerful this was for others, secretly wanting to feel some of that magic too. First few climbs I was still on the fence. That was until Jordan gave me a more challenging route. After about 10 attempts I still couldn't get to the top. How frustrating. I really wanted it! The following week I nailed that climb. It felt so good!
Not only have S and I both found a new activity we enjoy. We have found something that we can share together. He has been able to teach me new skills and encourage me to do hard things. This week he belayed me for my climbs. It was a pretty cool moment. We have taken up climbing together outside of the Chalk sessions. It's given us a space to forget about other stuff and be present.
This is a really long way of saying how amazing Chalk is!! I just really want other people to understand the magic of this project and what it offers. We all know the importance of wellbeing and physical activity. Social connectedness is key in improving wellbeing and quality of life. With relationships being the agents of change. S tried climbing elsewhere and said 'They're not Jordan!'
S is still finding things tricky, especially in school, but the veil has lifted slightly and there is a light. That's thanks to Chalk.
S said 'Jordan will just give you a high five for being there, for turning up!' - How great it is to feel people want to celebrate your presence.
S said 'Climbing is really fun and makes me happy!'
Our favourite day of the week is Chalk day!