Paraclimber Abigail Robinson offers visually impaired youngsters a chance to try their hand at Sunderland Wall

Paraclimber champion Abigail Robinson is driving visually impaired youngsters up the Wall.

Tuesday, 26th February 2019, 5:00 am
World Paraclimbing champion Abigail Robinson at Sunderland Wall.

The World Champion took time out of her training schedule to help show young people how to climb.

Ten youngsters, who are part of The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Adventurers group, tried their hand at climbing at the Sunderland Wall.

Abigail Robinson talks to members of the group

Abigail was diagnosed with Stargardts disease at the age of 17, which has gradually affected her central field of vision. But has gone on to join the GB Paraclimbing Team and is now World Champion.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“After I was diagnosed with Stargardts, I was determined it wouldn’t stop me climbing or take away my independence,” she said.

“Focusing on my climbing and joining a team really helped me come to terms with my sight loss and made me feel like I belonged somewhere. Meeting the others today was great fun and I’d love to see them continue to push themselves to achieve their own goals.”

The RNIB Adventurers is a group for those aged between 18 and 30 across the North East of England who are blind or partially sighted.

One of the group tries his hand under Abigail's watchful eye

Set up at the end of last year, the group was designed to help young people meet others with similar experiences and do fun activities.

The group is led by young people with support from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

One of the group leaders, Sami Hogg, aged 24 from Darlington, said: “Being blind or partially sighted can be really isolating.

“I wanted to set up a way for people like me to meet and speak to other people who have had similar experiences. It’s not just talking though, it’s also a chance to do amazing things together – stuff that people might not expect us to be able to do.

“Climbing was amazing. It was great that Abbie was able to come along and show us all the incredible things she can do on the wall. It was so inspiring to see her, and she gave us all really helpful hints and tips to improve our technique.”

The climbing session in Sunderland comes after The Adventurers have already enjoyed a ten-pin bowling evening in Newcastle. A bird of prey experience and beauty treatment day are currently being planned as future activities.

Lindsay Coyle, Community Facilitator at RNIB in the North East, said: “At RNIB, we want to help the blind and partially sighted community to break down barriers.

“This includes helping people build up the confidence to change other’s attitudes about their abilities. The Adventurers group is a great opportunity for young people with vision impairment to build up vital social and support networks, while also challenging other people’s perceptions about what is possible.”