New Challenges for Students with Special Needs at Diablo Rock Gym

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By Greg Reichardt.

Greg Reichardt (A.K.A. Mr. Greg), special education teacher for the Contra Costa County Office of Education in Brentwood, has been bringing his special day class to Diablo Rock Gym in Concord, CA since the beginning of 2019. His students with special needs have a combination of learning disabilities and behavior and physical challenges. Indoor rock climbing has been a huge success for Mr. Greg’s classroom. The students get to go out into the community and experience an activity that they would otherwise not be able to do.

Rock climbing involves focus, motor skills, overcoming fears, and being able to challenging yourself. None of the students have ever rock climbed in the past. The students have been doing it for several months and have learned to climb, get over their fears, push themselves, and rappel back down. Their expressions and reactions tell the true story. These students are so proud of themselves after climbing!

Every week a small group of students go to Diablo Rock Gym. They look forward to their turn on the weekly rotation and even ask to go when it is not their turn. They feel such a sense of accomplishment. They get to work on so many other skills too, like communication and social skills. Friendships have been formed and they like to talk about their experiences.

In the hallway just outside of the classroom, the students helped create a rock climbing bulletin board. They also created their own rock climbing figure which shows their individual progress on the rock climbing wall. In just a short time, half the class has made it to the top. All the students love it and want to continue climbing next year.

The staffs at Diablo Rock Gym are very friendly and always offer to help. The manager, Hans, and his staff have been very welcoming to the students with special needs and are very accommodating. They even put in extra-large climbing holds at the bottom of the routes that the students use.  Mr. Greg cannot emphasize what a wonderful experience this has been and how grateful he is to Hans and Diablo Rock Gym for this opportunity.