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Cowichan Climbing Academy hosts Blind Beginnings

Cowichan Climbing Academy member Charlotte Yarnold helps Elias Allen and his mom Danielle Elias during the recent Blind Beginnings climbing session at the school. - courtesy Jaime Doyle
Cowichan Climbing Academy member Charlotte Yarnold helps Elias Allen and his mom Danielle Elias during the recent Blind Beginnings climbing session at the school.
— image credit: courtesy Jaime Doyle

An amazing experience was had by both blind students from all over Vancouver Island and members of the Cowichan Climbing Academy on March 29.

Nine members of the local climbing group, who run one of two climbing academies in North American at the old Mount Prevost Middle School site, hosted the organization Blind Beginnings.

About 25 members from that group participated in a climbing day at Cowichan's climbing wall.

"Blind Beginnings is an organization that provides opportunities to blind youth and their families," explained Cowichan Secondary, Quamichan Campus principal Jaime Doyle. "This Vancouver based organization, after hearing about our academy, approached me earlier in the year to see if we could provide an opportunity for their island clients to rock climb in a safe and comfortable environment.

"I readily agreed," Doyle said. "Overall the event was a fantastic success with a great deal of praise heaped upon our students for both their professionalism and compassion."

One moment in particular sticks out for Doyle.

"...One blind and autistic young girl repeatedly announced at the top of her lungs for all to hear after climbing her first wall, 'So happy, so happy, so happy, so happy,'" said Doyle.

That and the academy kids shined in the leadership roles placed upon them.

"Throughout the year the academy kids as part of their curriculum do volunteer work in hosting outside groups on the Cowichan climbing walls," said Doyle. "The walls themselves, while housed at the old Mount Prevost Middle School site, belong to Cowichan Secondary."

The academy has over 50 kids registered in both grades nine and 10 and is growing.

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