On the joys of volunteering

By now, I am sure you have realised how passionate I am about the sport of rock-climbing. It should come as no surprise, that I also do some little volunteering work in that field.

I spent the weekend (22-23 Feb 2020) volunteering with Adaptive Climbing Victoria who offer people living with a disability the opportunity to participate in indoor rock-climbing no matter what their abilities are.

We spent the first day learning different skills in side-climbing, assisted belaying and of course communicating, supporting participants, and ensuring everyone has a great time. Safety featured strongly in our training too although I am one to take a little bit of calculated risk myself. The second day was spent with our participants most of whom had never experienced being off-the-ground, let alone rock climbing before.

It was absolutely wonderful seeing the huge smiles on everyone’s faces. We all had an amazing time with plenty of conversation, laughter, cakes, and of course climbing. I worked with two participants and three volunteers. One of our participants (for privacy reasons, I have not mentioned the name here) nearly made it all the way to the top of the climbing wall! As a rock-climber, you get used to seeing fear, anxiety and sometimes even sheer terror on people’s faces but one thing you never see enough of is laughter, excitement and happiness. Thankfully, we had plenty of that over the weekend. One participant enjoyed the event so much that she’ll be joining the Sport Climbing competition next week! The ABC TV channel also decided to come in and do a story about the whole event. I cannot wait to see the story and will share it with you all as soon as it comes out.

All the fun aside, I learned a whole lot of new non-climbing skills, but the top three would have to be;

  • How to communicate openly, effectively and with purpose
  • How to work with people with disability
  • How to provide a safe, engaging and fun environment for everyone

While all points are very relevant to the workplace too, the last one is of particular importance. We all talk about providing an inclusive, diverse workplace but perhaps do not realise exactly what is needed to achieve this goal. I would recommend – strongly – that every people leader gets involved with an organisation that works with people with disability. It is definitely a worthwhile investment of your time and the lessons learned will be invaluable.

To find out more or to get involved, please leave a comment below…