Acclaimed climber and climbing advocate Kai Lightner knew right away he wanted to help when College Park Mayor, Bianca Motley Broom, asked him about bringing new experiences through climbing to the next generation of their historically underserved community in Georgia. As the founder of Climbing for Change, a nonprofit dedicated to making rock climbing and the outdoor industry more inclusive, Kai felt a personal sense of obligation to see the idea through. Making this vision a reality would not be easy, but Kai knew he could assemble a team that would tackle the challenge with gusto.
Partnering with a local climbing gym would be key to developing a sustainable climbing community. Enter Stone Summit, an Atlanta-area climbing gym with three locations. Having worked with Kai since he was ten, Stone Summit volunteered from the earliest stages to help run an ongoing climbing program with the City of College Park. This would ensure lasting access to climbing coaches and state-of-the-art facilities, something Kai felt would be critical to the long-term success of the project.
Next on the list of people to call was Kevin Jorgeson, who has been spearheading a project to introduce 100,000 kids to climbing by opening climbing walls at Boys and Girls Clubs across the country through his own nonprofit 1Climb. As luck would have it, Kevin already had approval for a new 1Climb Wall through generous funding from Adidas. Additionally, 1Climb has extensive experience partnering with local gyms to further connect new climbers to the climbing community. By combining their experience and resources with Climbing for Change, the two organizations aim to magnify their impact through ongoing programs with the recreation center and Stone Summit.
On Friday, January 29th, after months of hard work, dozens of kids tried climbing for the first time on the new 1Climb wall at the Tracey Wyatt Recreation Center in College Park, Georgia. “It was amazing to look at all of the kids fall in love with climbing on the spot,” said Mayor Bianca Motley Broom in her Instagram post about the opening. Even better though is, it’s more than just one climb on a wall — it’s a built-in community of climbing friends and mentors where countless experiences await.
It’s efforts like this that TRUBLUE Climbing is proud to support and make us optimistic about the future of climbing. By providing TRUBLUE Auto Belays for every 1Climb wall we’re hoping to make it as easy as possible for kids to get on the wall and connect with the sport. You too can help grow the sport of climbing through increased accessibility and inclusivity. Donate to 1Climb and Climbing for Change to make a difference today.
We look forward to a year of introducing thousands of kids to climbing and more incredible team ups like the one that brought this wall to life! Follow along at @Climbing4Change, @1Climb_official and @trublueclimbing, and look out for the release of a documentary that covers this heartwarming development by @outsideTV.