In 2019, we will be proudly highlighting what makes Brooklyn Boulders’ Youth programming so special, straight from the mouths of the kids, instructors, parents, and partners. We want to spotlight our kids who crush, make us laugh, and teach us something new every day; our instructors whose rich backgrounds and enthusiastic personalities make BKB feel like a second home; and local partners that increase the depth and vibrancy of our youth programming.
To kick off 2019, we will be highlighting our very own Jonah A. and his family! Jonah is five years old, but if you ask him how long he’s been climbing, he’ll jubilantly tell you, “For 10 years!” Jonah started his climbing journey in September 2018 when he first attended Brooklyn Boulders (BKB) Chicago’s Kids Academy. Since then, he’s quickly become a joyful member of our community and his family described BKB as their second home.
From Israel to Chicago: Finding a second home
Jonah and his family moved to Chicago from Israel a few years ago and heard about BKB from other families. They told us that BKB feels like a second home to them because when they’re here, they can be themselves, relax together, and watch their son try new things and enjoy doing what he loves.
Nelly, Jonah’s mother, also says that BKB is a place not just for Jonah, but for their whole family. She said her family appreciates the positive energy, kindness, warmth, and care they receive from the entire community. “We all love to hang out there and work while Jonah is climbing. It’s a great environment, and the people we have conversations with really help make it feel like a home away from home…. I guess for all of us, BKB give us a feeling of belonging, which warms our heart every time we visit.”
“The perfect activity for body AND soul”
How did Jonah get started climbing? Nelly recalls a moment in Tel Aviv last summer. She said while they were waiting to cross the street, Jonah was inspecting a wall with a very bumpy surface. He was trying different body positions that could help him climb it. She said his concentration and eagerness to figure out the surface of the wall and what was needed to climb it, rather than just wanting to get to the top, seemed far beyond what a child would normally think, and recognized that climbing could be right up his alley.
Nelly also appreciates climbing because “it’s the perfect activity for Jonah to do with his body AND soul.” It develops his social skills with people of different ages and backgrounds. “He learns to connect with the world, respect rules, and delicately balance being safe with trying new challenges. He learns the power of practice, commitment, and not giving up when you fail.”
Furthermore, Nelly mentions that she’s noticed age differences are not an issue because everyone Jonah interacts with shares the common interest of climbing. It’s cool, she told us, to see people of all ages working together on the same problems, sharing tips and tricks. Through his ongoing experiences at BKB, Jonah has become strong (physically and mentally) and, as his mother noticed, he’s gained so much confidence.
A community for all
Nelly also spoke about how thankful she is that Brooklyn Boulders hosts the Adaptive Climbing Group, a weekly meet-up for climbers of all abilities. It’s fantastic that other people, and children especially, have the opportunity to learn that there is no limit to what we can do when we have a supportive community, a positive attitude, and the sheer power of will.
This is especially important for Nelly, as she wants her children to grow up in and help foster an environment that is accepting of all: no matter who you are, where you come from, or what abilities you have. “It’s a lovely opportunity for him to be exposed to and experience the sense of community that grew out of something he loves.”
What’s your story?
Every superhuman that walks through our doors has a story, and we want to hear it. If you’re interested in sharing yours, please email us at [email protected].