A year ago, Taryn was working on strengthening her mobility and walking independently. Today, Taryn is an active 2 ½ year old who is rock climbing, running, and living her life to the fullest! She has made great progress but that didn’t come without hard work and a lot of self-determination.
During an appointment with Taryn’s physician, Taryn’s parents asked about activities that would be helpful towards her progress. They were thinking about enrolling her in dance or swimming. To their surprise, their doctor recommended rock climbing. Taryn’s mom admitted she was a little hesitant about the idea and was not sure if there was a gym that would even take on rock climbing with a child so young. Nevertheless, she called Vertical Adventures which is well known for their adaptive climbing clubs for youth and adults with disabilities.
This was a first time experience for her coach Nick. Nick went to school for teaching with a focus on K-12 physical education. Children under the age of four would be a new adventure for him but one he grasped willingly with both hands. “When we first started, I couldn’t even get her off the ground” explained Nick. “Now she’s really strong. We are thinking about moving her up to the pre-school group (4-5 year olds). The ability is there.”
The connection between Coach Nick and Taryn is palpable. When we asked Nick what is his favorite thing about coaching Taryn he smiled and said, “Seeing her grow. Witnessing her growth first hand is incredible. I try to journal about all of her milestones as she reaches them. She continues to surprise me.”
While rock climbing has been a huge benefit to Taryn’s physical growth, she has also advanced mentally. Prior to her rock climbing lessons, Taryn was reluctant to try new things explained her mom. “Her confidence has grown. Now, she goes right up to different playground equipment without any hesitation.” Additionally, rock climbing has helped Taryn’s awareness of her body. As she calculates which rock to step to next, she is thinking about where she is currently before she makes her next move.
Her parents have even noticed Taryn practicing her climbing breath to self-regulate when she is frustrated. One night at the dinner table, Taryn’s parents noticed she was starting to get frustrated. Before they attempted to intervene, they saw Taryn taking deep breaths to relax. “I asked her, ‘Where did you learn to do that?’ and she said, ‘Coach Nick!’” shared her proud father. The variety of skills Taryn has learned through her climbing practices have proven to be applicable in many other areas of her life.
In 2019, Nationwide Children’s Hospital will be partnering with Vertical Adventures to conduct a research study on the impacts of rock climbing and children with cerebral palsy. Nationwide Children’s has been following Taryn’s journey closely and is excited to see how rock climbing could positively impact more children like Taryn.
Way to go Taryn! We are continuously amazed by your progress and inspired by your positive spirit!