Climbing as a discipline offers plentiful metaphors for tackling life's obstacles - bravery, courage, climbing to success and overcoming adversity are just some of the words and phrases seized by corporations and thrown around by the media, often bearing a superficial, patronising or clichéd undertone.
However, one charity which recognises the benefits which climbing can bring to people's lives in the long-term is the newly-founded, Edinburgh-based charity Urban Uprising. Without promising to resolve the world's poverty issues or to stop crime for good, Urban Uprising's Director Stuart Green speaks of a desire to provide opportunities to underpriviledged young people - to give them the equipment to independently climb their way out of their situation, without relying on an exterior financial framework. In other words, to equip young people with the life skills which could improve their future opportunities and circumstances in a self-sustaining manner. We asked Stuart some questions to find out more about Urban Uprising.
2. What inspired you to start the charity?
3. Why climbing?
Climbing is the hook that helps us to provide education and leadership to empower these street-smart, enthusiastic young people to reach past the boundaries of the favelas and carve their own paths. Along the way they will improve their self-esteem, social skills, employability, environmental awareness and be able to take amazing stories back to their friends.
6. What would you say is the easiest way for people who want to help, but don't want to commit to a monthly payment?
7. Every t-shirt sold sponsors a trip outside for one child to climb, what sort of activities will they do?
8. Have you seen any changes in the local community in Rio since you've started the work with your charity?
Popular media is very keen to focus on crime and the drug gangs in these favelas. Whilst they are certainly a factor, the full story is much more subtle. All the children that are at the school there are 'at risk' as they are being raised in excluded and impoverished conditions. They experience poor sanitation, social stigmatisation because of where they live, poor diet and so forth. This exposes them to lots of disadvantages that other children outside of the favelas don’t have to face. We are helping their self-esteem, health and environmental awareness, teaching them about responsibility, accountability and creating a safe, fun and positive atmosphere for them.
At the end of a session they are almost glowing with pride and it certainly gives them a ‘can do’ attitude, a much needed kick in their step. When they get to the top of a climb and they have never seen their own city from that angle before, that is something special. Whilst many may not end up climbing in the long run, we're hoping they can take this increased focus and confidence into other aspects of their lives.