Last week (3-9 October) was the return of Women’s Sport Week, which aims to celebrate and showcase women’s sport at every level, from the grassroots to the elite. The overall ambition is to get more women and girls physically active and playing sport
Of course, we at the BMC couldn't miss the opportunity to join such a fantastic campaign. So, as part of Women's Sport Week, we organised a number of events designed to engage women and girls in climbing.
Working with The Depot Climbing Centres, we organised three bouldering events for girls in Manchester, Leeds and Nottingham. Everyone who came to the sessions had a go at bouldering, and for inspiration we showed films of female climbers and spoke about what they already knew about climbing. Across the three events, over 50 primary and 50 secondary schoolgirls took part and for many of these girls it was the first time they had been rock climbing.
When asked at the start of the session what a climber looked like, or to draw their interpretation of a climber, many of the girls described or drew a male climber. For us, this reinforced the importance of campaigns such as Women's Sport Week and the aims of our bouldering events which were: to raise the awareness of climbing and bouldering amongst girls, and to showcase the many female role models that there are in climbing.
At the primary school session in Leeds, the girls were asked what advice they would give friends if they were nervous about trying climbing. There were some wonderfully inspiring responses:
"It’s the trust in yourself that matters," Elanor age nine.
"Climbing is one of the best experiences I have ever had. It doesn’t matter how hard it is, it’s still fun," Priya age nine.
Meanwhile, we asked the primary school session in Nottingham to complete the statement: "I like climbing because... "
"It gives me energy and strength." "You don’t have to be good, you can do it for fun." And: "It’s fun and builds my confidence," were just some of the amazing responses we received.
As well as the school events, the BMC organised some women-only outdoor climbing sessions. Many people find it hard to make the move from climbing indoors to climbing outdoors and this can be due to a broad range of reasons, such as: feeling that you don’t have the skills and ability to try climbing outdoors, not having anyone to climb outdoors with, and not having the equipment needed.
The sessions we organised focused on attracting those climbers who may already climb indoors, but wanted to experience climbing outdoors, and were designed to show them they already had what it takes to climb outside.
We held six sessions over the weekend of 8/9 October at Shepherds Crag, Wilton Quarry, and Brimham Rocks. The sessions were very popular with almost 50 ladies signing up, many of whom had limited experience climbing outdoors. All the participants agreed that they left the session inspired to climb outdoors more regularly.
We were also keen to celebrate the increasing number of female leaders and instructors and through our @TGCClimbing Twitter account we shared some of the stories from Mountain Training of women who work in the outdoors industry.
As the climbing walls, crags and mountains start to open, we wanted to say thanks to every BMC member who supported us through the Coronavirus crisis.
From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t have made it without you.
If you liked what we did, then tell your friends about us: www.thebmc.co.uk/join