An ‘inspirational’ deaf teenager is breaking down barriers after climbing her way to the top of her new passion.
Hannah Julia Atkinson, 19, from Seaburn, saw her disability hold her back in sports until she discovered climbing.
She started to attend climbing centre Sunderland Wall, in Doxford Works, Pallion Quay, just two months ago after being knocked back by gymnastics and trampolining clubs because of her lack of hearing. Already, she has won a para-climbing competition in Newcastle, and has been entered into a national event in Manchester on December 5.
The profoundly deaf teenager has now told about how discovering the sport has been the best thing to happen to her. Hannah said: “At first, I was petrified, but I really enjoyed my first session and wanted to go back.
“You never feel left out or alone, and it’s the best thing that has happened to me.
“I entered the competition just because I wanted to have a go and see what it was like.
You never feel left out or alone, and it’s the best thing that has happened to meHannah Julia Atkinson
“I was very surprised to finish first, and it was the best feeling I’ve had.
“I was shocked and amazed, as it was my first sports competition.”
Hannah has been determined not to let her deafness get the better of her.
She added: “I know that I can do it, and I’ll never let deafness or disability stop me doing what I want to do.
“I had wanted to give many sports a go, but because of my deafness, I was told I couldn’t do them as it was a health and safety risk.
“Then I discovered climbing, which is addictive, and Sunderland Wall is a great place to meet new people.
“I used to feel very alone, but this is like my second home now.
“I want to say a big thank you to Sunderland Wall for how amazing they have been. I couldn’t ask for a better sport or a better place to go to.”
Sunderland Wall are now set to train Hannah up as an instructor so she can teach others how to climb.
Paula Wilson, manager of Sunderland Wall, said: “Hannah is a very, very enthusiastic young lady and she wanted to have a go at climbing.
“She has only been climbing for two months, so it’s amazing how well she has done so far.
“It will be interesting to see how she progresses. We feel she will be a very, very strong climber.
“We think she’s amazing. She’s inspirational.
“She needs to get some qualifications first, but we’re taking her on as an instructor, so she’ll be one of the first apprentice instructors here.”