Climbing gyms always seem to attract a large number of medical professionals. On any given day at Mission Cliffs, among the climbers on the wall, you will find nurses, doctors, paramedics, medical students, physical therapists, and other healthcare workers.
Climbing can be a welcome release from a stressful day, and a social outlet from demanding jobs with long hours. Mission Cliffs’ proximity to San Francisco General Hospital (less than a mile away) is another reason for the strong medical presence within the gym’s community.
Mission Cliffs is always happy to support and give back to its members when it can. When one of our members, Dr. Diana Wu, a third year Resident in Family Medicine at UCSF-SFGH, reached out to the gym about bringing in a group of youth in July who were participating in a summer program introducing them to the healthcare workforce, Mission Cliffs was happy to be able to host the young students, many of whom had never been climbing before.
The program, SUHLA (Student Urban Health Leadership Academy), is a three-week pipeline initiative hosted by the UCSF-SFGH Family and Community Residency Program and the UCSF Primary Care Leadership Academy, in partnership with John O’Connell High School, FACES for the Future, and the Boys & Girls Club Mission Chapter to develop a mentorship program for high school and undergraduate students in the Mission District, with a focus on healthcare workforce development.
SUHLA strives to inspire, engage and empower Mission neighborhood youth to invest in the health of their community. The program works to strengthen and sustain relationships between SFGH and community partners and to grow future leaders in the health workforce from within the residency and neighboring communities.
By bringing the program to Mission Cliffs, Diana was able to share one of her passions, climbing, with the young students. Other mentors from the program and some Mission Cliffs members volunteered their time to teach the students how to climb and belay for an afternoon. The group climbed for several hours and it was a positive experience for everyone involved to see how much they got out of it. When asked what they liked about climbing, one of the SUHLA participants said, “I liked feeling accomplished when reaching the top, and pushing myself to finish when thinking of giving up.”
Other students said they liked the support they received from each other and those around them: “the support and encouragement was amazing. I liked the whole experience, especially learning new things.”
The students also told their mentors that they had fun while learning new skills like tying in, doing safety checks, and using commands to communicate. “I learned how to tie a double eight knot. I also learned how to check if someone is safely prepared with their harness to start climbing.” Another student reported, “I learned a lot, especially because it was my first time climbing. It was really cool being a checker and seeing how you can help revise the knot.
It was also a new experience, which made it even more fun. Learning the words that we used also made the experience safe and cool.” Mission Cliffs is honored and excited to have been a part of the SUHLA experience this summer and proud to have inspiring members like Diana who are committed to improving and strengthening the Mission neighborhood community. Thanks for climbing with us!