March 15th, 2022
GC's Hershey facilitates adaptive climbing event hosted by Paradox Sports
OLA associate professor spent weekend in Rumney, New Hampshire
A group photo from Paradox Sports adaptive ice climbing event recently held in Rumney, New Hampshire. Hershey has participated in facilitating the New Hampshire event as well as the Paradox Sports adaptive rock climbing event in the Shawangunk Mountains of New York state, since 2015.
Garrett College's associate professor of Outdoor Leadership & Adventure Education (OLA), Andrew Hershey, recently spent the weekend of February 18-20 in Rumney, New Hampshire facilitating an adaptive ice climbing event. Adaptive recreation involves activities that are altered as needed to allow people with disabilities the opportunity to participate.
The annual event is hosted by Paradox Sports, a nonprofit organization from Boulder, Colorado as one of a dozen national climbing trips held at iconic rock and ice climbing locations nationwide. As described on the organization's website (www.paradoxsports.org), Paradox Sports "offers accessible climbing opportunities for people with disabilities, defying the perception that people with a disability cannot lead a life of adventure".
"Prior to working with Paradox Sports I had limited connection with the disability community, in life generally and in outdoor leadership situations," remarked Hershey. "These events have opened my eyes to the significant power that outdoor experiences can have in impacting the quality of life of people of all abilities."
The Paradox Sports National Climbing Trips bring together climbing guides and instructors with participants of various ability levels. The program focuses on adaptive climbing opportunities for people with physical disabilities, including but not limited to people with amputation or limb difference, blindness, hearing impairment, spinal cord injuries, neurological issues, TBI and PTSD.
Pictured is Andy Hershey, GC’s associate professor of Outdoor Leadership & Adventure Education; Adam Payne, adaptive climber; and Fernando Casacuberta, volunteer.
Hershey has participated in facilitating the New Hampshire event, as well as the Paradox Sports adaptive rock climbing event in the Shawangunk Mountains of New York state, since 2015. In a typical year, Hershey is accompanied by students from the Garrett College OLA program and Frostburg State University's Recreation and Parks Management program at the two events.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, event restrictions have reduced the level of volunteer participation at the events and have limited student access. Student participation in previous years has been impactful, both for participants and the student volunteers, and a number of graduates from Garrett College have pursued careers in adaptive outdoor programs after graduation.
"Over the years students from our program have made valuable contributions to the facilitation of Paradox programs in the Northeast," Hershey noted. "These programs have assisted in developing not only their technical and interpersonal skills but also their views related to ability and disability."
Hershey also participates as an instructor in the Adaptive Climbing Initiative (ACI), a collaborative program between Paradox Sports and outdoor clothing and equipment manufacturer, The North Face.
The ACI program, is a comprehensive training program to help make climbing facilities more accessible to people with physical disabilities. The two-day course, held in indoor climbing facilities nationwide, gets climbing facilitators the experience and equipment they need to offer quality adaptive climbing programs for in their communities.