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SEN multisports participants develop STEP skills on the climbing wall

Over the past six weeks, multisports participants from special education needs (SEN) school, John F Kennedy in Newham, have been developing their social, thinking, emotional and physical skills on trips to Mile End Climbing Wall. Students from class 4 and 7 took part, headed up by Greenhouse Sports multisports coach Jack Garside. The participants began with very different climbing abilities, but over the course of six weeks all the young people showed real progression and development.

Two of the participants took to rock climbing very quickly, showing courage, problem-solving abilities and physical strength. With verbal support, both climbed to the top of the 10m wall and back down again in the very first session. One student showed real bravery to overcome his initial uncertainty, and with help from coach Jack climbing alongside him, also made it to the top of the 10m wall and back down again in the first session. One slightly less confident student did really well to get to the halfway stage of the wall, with physical and verbal encouragement. He worked hard to conquer his uncertainty and made it back down independently, which showed fantastic mental strength and perseverance. 

multisportsThroughout the climbing course, the students who attended showed positive improvements in not only climbing but confidence, spatial awareness and concentration. It was great to see the supportive atmosphere between staff and students, and staff were thrilled with what the participants were achieving. By the final week, the improvements on the climbing wall alone were magnificent. The more nervous student climbed to the very top of the 10m wall and managed to navigate his way down. This took strength in his arms and legs to get the to the top, and awareness of the positioning of his feet to make his way back down – a fantastic achievement with no adult support.

One brave participant managed to have a go at belaying, which is a way of getting down the wall by holding the rope and leaning back while you are lowered down the wall – it takes great co-ordination and concentration. Well done! In their final session, two of the more confident students went onto the 20m wall. One managed to climb most of the way up the wall and navigate her way back down to the bottom by herself – brilliant work and always with a smile on her face. The other brave soul managed to climb even further on the 20m wall and with assistance from his coach made his way back down, too.


It was a fantastic effort from all the students involved. They improved their technique each week by trial and error, watching coach Jack climb next to them and copying the skills. Overall it was a great experience for all the staff and students, and it gave autistic spectrum disorder students a real chance of developing their social, thinking, emotional and physical skills.

Well done to all the participants!

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