Outreach: Community Service

Back on My Feet at LA Boulders

unnamed-11LA Boulders recently had the pleasure of hosting Back on My Feet, an organization that helps individuals struggling with addiction and homelessness get back on their feet through running.

Back on My Feet (BoMF) is a national for-purpose 501(c)3 organization that uses running to help those experiencing homelessness change the way they see themselves so they can make real change in their lives that results in employment and independent living. The organization’s mission is not to create runners within the homeless population, but to use running to create self-sufficiency in the lives of those experiencing homelessness. The program’s success is measured by how many members obtaining independence through employment, job training and housing. Through dedication and hard work, Residential Members (those experiencing homelessness) earn the opportunity to create a new road for themselves. Running leads to personal transformation and dedication to the program leads to access to training, employment and housing resources. Through community and corporate support, the program strives to change the perception of homelessness. - BoMF

Social Coordinator Melissa Arcaro runs with a group out of the Union Rescue Mission in Skid Row. They meet Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings and run for an hour. "Through running, the members gain confidence and engage in a healthy activity that helps promote positive habits into their lifestyles," said Arcaro.

Melissa is always looking for unique physical activities to help strengthen their team, which is why she turned to LA Boulders for a fun filled and active group event. Here at the LA.B, we're always happy to introduce new climbers to the wonderful world of bouldering, especially when they have such a noble mission and commitment to staying active and healthy.

unnamed-13"We all had such a great time and it was exactly the team building experience that we were looking for. Being able to spend time with each other outside of our normal runs doing something that is fun, active, and challenging is such a treat," Melissa said. "I personally had way more fun than I had anticipated. I live right up the street from you all and I'm bringing three friends in this week!"

"The group had a great attitude and they were all ready and willing to try new things," said staffer Roxy. "It's great to see a group of adults challenge themselves like that!"




Options For Youth visit Pipeworks

Sacramento Pipeworks has supported “Options For Youth” - a community group giving kids a second chance at education - for many years now. We appreciate their values and the work they do – and are proud to host them periodically at Sacramento Pipeworks.

From its inception, OFY’s mission has been to recover students who have dropped out of traditional schools or have fallen behind in credits and are at risk of failing. This highly successful program has established a track record of achievement in strengthening student performance. OFY student test scores and graduation rates consistently rank equal to, or above, those of comparable schools.

Here's what an OFY lead teacher had to say about the effect climbing has had on his kids.

Options For Youth

Our students had an awesome time last Friday! All of the students were very excited after the climbing and had a really good time. Several of the students had a great deal of anxiety prior to the event either from a fear of heights or fear of ridicule and they all overcame their fears. Every single student made it up at least one climb and several made it up challenging climbs. One student who almost did not participate in the Outdoor Experience program because of climbing, he is a big kid who is scared of heights and ridicule, and he couldn’t hold back the smirk at the end of the day. He was clearly very proud of himself!

The entire North Highlands Center was polled on the way home and asked to rate the day from a 5.1 to a 5.10 and two students rated it a 5.9, two a 5.10. Here is some of the feedback we heard:

 “Climbing is cool because it forces me to get over one of my biggest fear...heights. I like to challenge myself and I feel safe doing it there.” – Gabe

“This is one of the first activities like this that I have been good at. I never thought I would get up some of these but I did it. I climbed a 5.10b and most of the boys can’t do that. It is fun.” – Cheyenne

“I like that we don’t have to drive all the way to Tahoe to experience something new. It is just as cool as anything we have done in Tahoe and it is right here. I never knew you could do things like this.” – Miranda.

One of our Carmichael students who is a very shy kid and afraid of heights did not want to climb at all. I brought him over to the bouldering section and after he saw me and a few other students give it a shot he decided to jump in. He was a natural. He flew up the first 4 routes he tried and by the end of the day was challenging other students to new routes. I asked him if he had fun once we got back to the gym and he said, “That was awesome! I think I am going to be really sore though...”

The students really love the climbing! The kids are always so positive about the climbing and are really starting to get excited about their progress. We greatly appreciate your willingness to have our students climb there and hope we can continue doing so next year.

Thanks again for supporting our program!

Brad Astin

Lead Teacher

Options For Youth

Applying the Habits of Mind at The Studio Climbing

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Kameelah Green, a teacher in the Evergreen School District, took the time to write about her experience bringing students to The Studio Climbing. We're so happy to be able to support community groups such as this one!

On Thursday, July 31st 2014, The Studio Climbing in downtown San Jose welcomed thirty-five overjoyed fifth graders to put into practice everything they’d learned in summer school. Traditionally, summer school is about brushing up on basic math facts and reading skills, but at Evergreen School District’s Career Tech Summer Academy, students became reengaged in academics through project-based learning. This particular group of students worked on developing strong “Habits of Mind”, such as 'Taking Responsible Risks', 'Persisting', 'Thinking Flexibly', and 'Remaining Open to Continuous Learning'. They also created digital stories about overcoming a life obstacle, such a being bullied, shyness, or the death of a loved one – just to name a few. The vision was to end the academy with a challenging task such as hiking Mission Peak or reaching the top of a rock wall. With the support and generosity of Evergreen’s Denise Williams and The Studio’s Diane Ortega, that dream came true!

Trying to contain the students’ positive energy was probably the most difficult part of the field trip. They dove into the rope challenges with gusto, and many conquered several different walls. Even those that didn’t make it to the tops of the walls were thrilled to beat their own fears or to progress further than they thought they could. Zuleymi, one of the quietest and least confident students, took to the walls like spider girl and made it to the top of each wall and virtually upside down on another with ease! As a whole, the children continually beamed with pride and power – feelings every teacher wants for their students!

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If you are looking for the kind of field trip that leaves students declaring things like, “At first I was scared to try it, but I kept telling myself ‘don’t give up’!” or “I’m so proud of myself!” or even “That was the BEST experience ever!” – then consider taking your class to the Studio Climbing in downtown San Jose. From the friendly and experienced staff members to the flexible and responsive coordinator to the diverse and motivating rock walls – it’s a winning adventure!

Outreach Programs at Great Western

By GWPC Climber and Long-Time Touchstone Member: John E. Ricco

I have a lot of pride in being part of the GWPC community. Something about this gym feels different to me, in the best possible, welcoming, type of way. In exploring a bit more past the friendly staff and smiling, ass- kicking members, I found that our community gets involved in quite a few charitable endeavors.

GWPC works directly with many groups and schools, offering discounted rates that make it possible for their youth members to learn and experience climbing in a safe and instructional environment. Many of these kids come from disadvantaged families, and would not have the opportunity to experience climbing without this type of assistance. A few of the gym's regular groups include GirlVentures, Oakland Technical High School and Brothers on the Rise.

trust exerciseGirlVentures brings together a group of 6th to 12th grade girls from diverse ethnic, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds to experience climbing on a weekly basis for 10 weeks. The program teams up with Great Western and Mission Cliffs and brings partial to full scholarships to about two-thirds of their participants who are from low to moderate income backgrounds.

"GirlVentures is delighted to have Great Western Power Company as a partner for our after school climbing and mentorship program, Girlz Climb On," said Susie Barr-Wilson, East Bay Girlz Climb On Program Manager. "The facility is great, the staff are tremendous, and the partnership allows us to fulfill our mission to empower adolescent girls to develop and express their strengths through rock-climbing. The girls leave our 10-week program with increased confidence, strength, self-awareness and a willingness to 'say YES to try’ -- just like they did on the wall.”

A few youngsters climbing at GWPC from the inner-city may not sound like a significant experience to some people, but I can assure you that this opening of a door to an entirely different world can make a huge impact on a kid's life. These youth build relationships, learn trust, take leadership roles, problem solve, control and overcome fear and hone communication skills.

Nestor Amaya, now 19, had the opportunity to climb at GWPC with his Oakland Tech High School peers through a weekly program that Great Western and Tech teamed up on to create. “Rock climbing has taught me that nature should be respected and to take advantage of what it has to offer,” said Nestor. He now is pursuing the outdoor industry as part of his career, most recently teaching kayaking to other youth and adults in Oakland. Nestor has also found backpacking and continues to climb. I think it is doubtful that a kid from inner-city Oakland would have discovered these possibilities without these types of youth programs.

Great Western, along with the other Touchstone gyms, is often asked to make donations to various groups that are doing auctions to raise money for all types of noble causes. GWPC has donated two Intro to Climbing Classes for the auctions of each of the following groups: Alameda County Food Bank, Our Family Coalition, Skyline Preschool, Friends of Oakland Parks and Recreation, Oakland Firefighters Random Acts, among many others.

yoga roomI think that it is amazing to be a member of a community that goes way beyond just a place to climb after work. My hope is that by sharing a few stories of our gym's charitable works, we as members will not only take more pride in what we are a part of, but also may reach out on our own to do work in the wider community. There are so many volunteering opportunities and needs in Oakland, and throughout the Bay Area, that we can all find little ways to give a bit back. Visit www.girlventures.org and www.brothersontherise.org to get your own volunteering wheels turning.


YMCA Youth Group

In the middle of August, Berkeley Ironworks hosted a two hour climbing workshop for the YMCA-CBA Youth Institute. The Youth Institute is a three month long digital media arts program geared at community building, job readiness, and leadership development. 

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The Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond and Emeryville participants come from a wide array of backgrounds, including low income, incarceration, violence, and abuse. Being able to come climbing was a completely new experience for all of the kids. "The Berkeley Ironworks staff was so helpful, patient,  and fun, making the overall experience nothing short of amazing," said one instructor. Some of the kids were able to make it to the top of the walls, conquering fears and gaining confidence they didn't know they had! 

"There is something really special about hosting local youth groups," said manager Lyn Barraza. "Seeing the kids walk into the gym and go nuts over how tall the walls are and being able to help them reach their goals is so energizing. It even gets ME even more psyched on climbing!"

The group was able to spend time climbing, cheering each other on, and talking about their experiences. “Berkeley Ironworks is the perfect place for youth to safely explore the world around them, to trust other people, and find their inner strength,” said program director Pegah Rahmanian. “We had so much fun, thank you so much Ironworks for an unforgettable afternoon!”




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