When you negotiate a difficult passage on a climbing wall, you really have to trust the equipment. We also have to trust the person who assures us at the bottom and maintain good communication with them. Ultimately you have to trust yourself. These are issues that we can find in everyday life, especially if we experience difficulties, relational issues, vulnerabilities.

This is why a group of young women created Ça me dit de verre, a small organization that connects psychosocial intervention to climbing. Its mission: to help people aged 12 and over who have addiction or mental health issues, or even behavioral or legal issues.

“We always make a link between climbing and the steps we take in our personal life,” says Andréanne Vallières, one of the main instigators of the project.

The idea came about during COVID-19, while she was teaching children remotely. “I told myself that it didn’t make sense to see them behind the computer,” says Andréanne Vallières. Surely there is a way to take them outside to play. »

As she was already very involved in the world of climbing, it was the sport that she wanted to focus on. The project quickly evolved and moved towards intervention with vulnerable people. Friends who worked with people suffering from schizophrenia and other mental health problems, alcoholism and drug addiction joined her. Donations allowed her to train these workers as climbing instructors.

The small group works with established organizations, whether non-profit organizations, private companies or government or paragovernmental organizations, to offer small groups two days of climbing.

“It’s a formula based on 16 hours of activity,” explains Andréanne. We were asked if it could be shorter, or longer. If we reduce it to one day, we lose the idea of ​​commitment. If we increase the number of days, we lose players. Two days is a lot for most of them, so doing three days would be a big challenge. »

During the activity, the speakers work on four areas, starting with communication.

When it comes to climbing, confidence is also important. “When you have a climbing partner, you have to trust them completely in their decision-making, in their reading of the path. So, there is trust in others, letting go. »

The workers also work on self-esteem with intervention tools on the ground, such as colored tablets or thermometers.

“After the climb, the participants will place themselves on the tablet which reflects their energy or the feeling they had. It seems a little childish like that, but it’s totally appropriate with adults. It works well. »

You don’t have to climb like a pro to improve your self-esteem. “For someone who is overweight, for example, it’s quite a challenge,” notes Andréanne Vallières. There were some who climbed a meter or two, and for them it was a great success. »

The last area concerns security. “When they arrive, they don’t know the belay systems. We teach them how to use them, but at the same time, we can ask them what their tools are in terms of physical and psychological safety. When they experience an issue, do they have a toolbox? Do they know where to turn? Do they know what to do to get out of this bind? »

There are no research results yet that show the benefits of outdoor climbing intervention.

In the meantime, the organizations are so satisfied that they come back year after year. The participants themselves are interested in returning.

“The fact that they come back means that they have found some joy, some happiness, but also some affirmation in their choices. And if that leads them to go play outside for fun, not necessarily climbing, but taking a step further into the outdoor world, so much the better. »

Sometimes you have to walk a long time before you can launch your river kayak.

This is the number of hunters in Quebec. Be careful in the woods!