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ODU Offers Children with Disabilities Guided Opportunity to Climb Rock Wall

big-blue-summer-camp-rock-climbThe climbing wall at the Student Recreation Center

The 25-foot climbing wall at Old Dominion University can be imposing for any visitors who haven't experienced the thrill of rock climbing.

On March 20, that thrill will become a gift to 35 children with multiple disabilities from Norfolk's Crossroads Elementary School. The students will visit ODU's Student Recreation Center, where they will participate in a modified climbing activity with the center's staff.

Brian Van der Linden, graduate assistant for the climbing wall, extended the invitation to the students from Crossroads for an hourlong clinic. Norfolk Public Schools has participated in an Adaptive Physical Education Clinic with ODU for a number of years, through the school division's Adaptive Physical Education Department, led by teacher Patrick Doyle. Several NPS schools visit ODU each year, and NPS students are paired with ODU adaptive PE teachers-in-training.

To help the schoolchildren with their rock wall experience, a rope ladder has been constructed, which will hang from the ceiling next to the rock wall. Also, some of the hooks and outcroppings on the wall have been equipped with horns to help visually impaired students as they make their climb.

Van der Linden said rock climbing is a great alternative form of exercise with many benefits. "Climbing can help improve balance, coordination, spatial awareness and motor skills, as well as help with communication, trust and problem solving. It's hard to find another activity that can offer so many benefits in one setting," he said.

Located in the heart of ODU campus, the Student Recreation Center is the hub of sport, wellness and fitness activity at the university. In addition to the climbing wall, the 15,000-square-foot facility, which opened in 2009, features an indoor swimming pool, a running track, a three-court gymnasium, group exercise studios, a cycling studio and racquetball courts. It also is the home of the Darden College of Education's Department of Human Movement Sciences.

The Student Recreation Center is located at 4700 Powhatan Ave.