On Thursday 21 March in Zurich, Switzerland, as an official supporter of the NGO ClimbAID, the UIAA represented by project manager Carol Kahoun, attended ClimbAID’s charity event “Klettern statt Krieg” (Climbing Not War). The evening, which saw an impressive turn out, started with a presentation by ClimbAID founder Beat Baggenstos, who explained the work and importance of the organisation.
The organisation’s aim is to foster peaceful environments through climbing and to aid holistic development of young people into autonomous, social, self- and environmentally aware actors. One of their two projects, called “A Rolling Rock”, is carried out in the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon. Using a mobile climbing wall built onto a truck, they bring the rock to the children, uniting youngsters from vulnerable communities behind a shared passion in a region affected by civil wars in neighbouring countries.
Within Switzerland, and through ClimbAID’s other successful initiative “MaXi Family”, volunteers and climbing gyms offer climbing sessions to asylum-seekers. In 2019, 90 sessions have been held until now, meaning almost every day was dedicated to climbing, to socialising and to sharing a common passion, no matter the individual’s background or experience.
Speakers changed, and onto the stage came Iranian climber Nasim Eshqi, who shared her love for climbing through images and videos. She explained the educational work she does within her country, teaching young children, particularly girls, to climb and successfully face challenges. Her presentation was followed by Australian physical therapist Simon Rosenbaum. Focusing his research on the benefits of exercise, Rosenbaum recently connected with ClimbAID to justify the effect sports and particularly climbing has in terms of improving mental health and self-development.
The evening came to a close with a presentation by Swiss alpinist and photographer Robert Bösch. He presented his work, explaining what today’s standards of outdoor photography entailed and spoke of his collaboration with the late, great Ueli Steck.
“Klettern statt Krieg” was an event full of passion and knowledge. The UIAA will continue to follow ClimbAID’s work and similar projects all under the spectrum of sports for development and peace. It is one of the project’s the UIAA is supporting as part of the 6 April International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.
UIAA & 6 April: International Day of Sport for Development and Peace
Main Photo: Vladek Zumr