Seven Years Strong: Valley Children’s Hospital and MetalMark Adaptive Climbing Program

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Dr. Jennifer Crocker, the Medical Director of Valley Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Rehabilitation Department, has been bringing children with disabilities to MetalMark Climbing + Fitness since 2012. Adaptive sports are a powerful way to show the kids that their bodies are strong and capable. We believe that climbing is for everyone, and it is a great honor for us to work with the dedicated parents, volunteers, medical professionals, and kids from VCH. The Fresno Bee covered our most recent climbing day with VCH, and we sat down with Alexis Newlin, a Recreation Therapist, to chat a bit about our ongoing program with their kids. Photos by Darryl Ploen.

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We love having VCH over at MetalMark, and the energy of the kids is infectious. Has climbing helped the participants in any particular way?

Climbing gives our participants confidence that they can pretty much conquer anything, despite their disabilities or impairments. I have had a few kiddos tell me that they thought they could never climb because their legs didn’t work or that they were missing a limb. After attending our clinic, they were surprised to see how much they could really do and this encouraged them to continue to pursue climbing.

How is it different from other sports or activities they participate in?

Metalmark is one of the only public facilities that allows families and participants to come try out climbing—without any cost to the family or program. Limited finances is a big barrier for most of the participating families. It is wonderful that MetalMark and Marie, MetalMark’s manager, totally remove that barrier so our families can enjoy the facility.

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How did you first get involved with MetalMark?

My personal involvement is through Dr. Jen Crocker and the Adaptive Sports program. Prior to coming on as staff, I had no idea that Metalmark was offering such a great program to kids with disabilities, free of charge.

Is there anything about MetalMark you or the kids especially enjoy or appreciate?

The staff is very knowledgable and eager to help out any kid, regardless of their abilities. They are very friendly and welcoming to our staff, volunteers, and, of course, participants! They encourage everyone who climbs and our kids leave the program believing they have made a huge accomplishment.

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Do you have any upcoming goals for the program?

I would love to have more families who come out to climb with us decide to pursue climbing as a regular sport they would participate in, with or without us.

We would love that, too!

Thank you Valley Children’s Hospital, and here’s to another seven years working together. If you’d like to get involved, contact the front desk at MetalMark!