Rock Climbing Boosts Confidence for Teen with Autism

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GRIMES, Iowa --You can give rock climbing a try, while supporting a program that helps kids with language delays. Climb Iowa is hosting the second It Takes Two…On the Rocks Friday night to support a program at ChildServe in Johnston.

Each step up the wall brings Eli Irwin, 14, closer to the top. The teen said, "I feel like I want to climb."

He started rock climbing at Climb Iowa through a program called YAC Uplift, which is Youth Adventure Climbing for kids from ChildServe with special healthcare needs.

Dad Ryan Irwin said, "He's autistic, and with that some of the challenges. We've had occupational therapy, speech therapy, eating therapy. All these things ChildServe has provided. This program here at Climb Iowa has been an amazing program."

The program helped Eli learn a new sport, while improving his social skills, coordination, and strength. Irwin said, "He tends to flex his muscles a little bit more, so he's getting stronger and building some self-confidence."

YAC Uplift came out of a fundraiser last year called It Takes Two…On The Rocks. It’s an event that allows anyone to try rock climbing while raising money for a program at ChildServe. Co-Founder Calla Whipp said, "We'll have people running the ropes, so if you've never climbed before, it's a great opportunity to come out. It does it for a good cause."

The event will include music, food and rock climbing. Tickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the door. Organizers hope to raise $10,000. The money will go to a program at ChildServe called It Takes Two to Talk. It’s for families of kids with language delays.

Matt McConnell with ChildServe explained, “It's a parent education group, so children and their families come together. It's something on top of outside their speech therapy. They're able to be in another group with other families, and that's how they can continue to grow and get more opportunities for kids needing speech help."

Rock climbing has helped Eli. He now does it is twice a week on a team with typically developing peers. His dad said, "It's great. We just want to see him have fun and develop and this is just a great way to do that."

It Takes Two...On the Rocks is Friday, February 20th from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Click here for more information or to buy tickets.