6/29/11 - The American Alpine Club announced Asa Firestone as the recipient of the Zack Martin Breaking Barriers grant for 2011. Firestone and his comrades will be working in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to improve the lives of children in the slums, called "favelas." The team will be in alliance with a local community center called "Centro da Escalada da Rocinha" (CER). They plan on coordinating an outdoor program as well as constructing a climbing wall for the children and young adults in the area in an effort to empower them to get involved in something progressive in their community. Firestone and his team are developing routes on the Dois Irmaos formation, located on the prominent Sugarloaf peak in Rio de Janeiro. The group plans on taking children from the favelas out climbing with them at this location, which is easily accessible by cable car and is nearby the city. The American Alpine Club in accordance with Firestone and his cause states:
"The hope and intent is to enable a few children, from time to time, to escape their life of poverty through character development and self-realization afforded by the focus, dedication, commitment, and perseverance required in climbing. The hope is for a few individuals to escape a life in poverty, return to the favela and 'pay it forward.' This is much more than a climbing program. This is a personal development program to escape abject poverty."
The Zack Martin Breaking Barriers grant has two components: the first and primary requirement is performing a humanitarian service, and the second is exploration or improvement in the realm of climbing or alpinism. The grant was named in memory of Zack Martin, who passed away at age 25 in 2002. A receiver of AAC grants, Martin was committed to both serving the comunity as well as climbing and exploration of the natural world. In the words of Martin, "The only barrier holding you back is yourself."
Check out the project via Asa Firestone's blog here.
Source: American Alpine Club