Glen Allen resident Mike Villafane, who is blind, is scaling the 32-foot-high rock climbing wall in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Cary Street Gym. As he climbs, Villafane is relying on Leandi Venter, a first-year student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program in VCU’s School of Allied Health Professions, to call out the best spots where he can find holds and place his feet.
Villafane was one of several people with disabilities who spent a recent evening at the Cary Street Gym climbing wall through a new partnership between the Outdoor Adventure Program of VCU Recreational Sports and Richmond-area nonprofit organization Sportable, which provides adaptive sports and recreational opportunities for people with physical and visual disabilities.
“Last year I attended a seminar about adaptive climbing at the [Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education] conference, and thought that could be something we could make happen here to broaden accessibility,” said Kevin Langlois, coordinator of the Outdoor Adventure Program. “From there I contacted Sportable to help with some questions and to help gather participants. Last July, we had a one-night event that was a success, which led to a four-night series this semester.”
Read the full VCU Exposure article.