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Expanding Horizons in Sioux City, IA: An Inclusive Climbing Wall

State: Iowa

Submitted Date: 2017

Public Health Issue
  • An estimated 11% of the 82,500 residents of Sioux City, Iowa, have a disability.
  • Compliance with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not always translate to full inclusion for people with disabilities. Planners often consider inclusion as an adjustment to a completed plan rather than a primary consideration to include at the beginning of a planning process.
  • The Long Lines Family Recreation Center in Sioux City is an example of a place that meets ADA standards on accessibility for people with disabilities. This accessibility was limited to participation by people with disabilities as observers of others using the Center’s climbing wall, not as active climbers themselves, which requires adaptive equipment.
Program Action
  • Community assessment helped the project team identify best-practices and adaptive improvements that help make physical activity inclusive.
  • Seed money and resources provided to local groups as part of NACDD’s pilot project served as an incentive to implement an inclusive physical activity option.
  • The project team partnered with the Miracle League of Sioux City, a local nonprofit that provides recreational opportunities for children and adults with disabilities. The partners evaluated local interest in improving access to a climbing wall for people with disabilities who were unable to use traditional climbing facilities and equipment.
  • People with disabilities, family members and other agencies were part of the implementation process.
  • Now 9,000 people with disabilities have the opportunity to fully participate in climbing activities at the Center.
  • Parks and Recreation staff received training on the use of adapted equipment for climbing.
  • Public awareness of the inclusive components of the climbing wall resulted in increased interest of the general public as well as local Parks and Recreation staff on the potential for inclusive physical activity in other venues. 
  • A participant with a disability who experienced the climbing wall for the first time, said: “I did not think this was even possible – that I would ever get to do this!”
Angela Drent
Siouxland District Health Department