1Climb—a non-profit founded by Dawn Wall sender Kevin Jorgeson—and Adidas Outdoor have announced a partnership to construct ten new climbing walls in Boys and Girls Club of America facilities across the country. The walls will be completed by the end of 2020. Located in urban areas, each of the Boys and Girls Clubs can serve up to 1,500 kids per year—kids who might never be exposed to rock climbing otherwise.
Jorgeson founded 1Climb in 2010, after he realized that rock climbing was often inaccessible to kids in inner-city areas. That’s when he had the idea to bring climbing to them, by partnering with the Boys and Girls Club of America and building climbing walls within their facilities.
“Climbing has the power to change the trajectory of a kid’s life,” Jorgeson said. “Climbing connects you with your body and promotes a healthy lifestyle, connects you with the community, enriches the quality of your life, and connects you with the natural world. If we can do that, we can create a new generation of stewards. Kind of a win, win, win.”
Since 2010, 1Climb has raised funds to build climbing walls in three Boys and Girls Clubs, while working out logistical kinks in the program and learning how to make it as effective as possible. Now, with the partnership of Adidas Outdoor, they will more than quadruple their number of walls in just a year-and-a-half.
“For Adidas, we believe that through sport we have the power to change lives,” said Steven Dowling, vice president of marketing for Adidas Outdoor. “In our Adidas Outdoor business, we do this by bringing diversity and people to the outdoors, and bringing the benefits of the outdoors right into the heart of inner cities.”
A key aspect of 1Climb is longevity—these climbing walls will not just impact the kids in the Boys and Girls Club today. The walls will be there for as long as the clubs themselves are in operation, introducing climbing to successive generations as they come through the program.
Jorgeson called the grand openings of these walls the best part of his year. He described the events—seeing the joy and excitement on the kids’ faces, seeing them encourage one another, and watching them build communal bonds—as a moving experience.
“Every kid is coming to the sport with a different history and a different set of circumstances, and it impacts their lives in a very unique way,” said Jorgeson. “Just get them climbing, and they’re going to find what they need in it naturally.”
The most recent 1Climb wall, prior to the Adidas partnership, was opened at the Variety Boys and Girls Club in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, in August 2018. According to the executive director of the club, Patricia Siqueiros, the kids love the climbing wall—they’re thrilled to climb. She believes that access to climbing can open up the door of possibility. “It is very exciting, and I’m glad that other kids will have access to it [with the upcoming projects]. For some of them, they might even be the next Kevin Jorgeson.”