Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 22, 2018

Climbing to new heights

Climbing wall at Lincoln Elementary teaches students new skills
Dec 21, 2017
Photo by: Karyn Spory Lincoln fourth-grader Jack Newman took the “color challenge” during his P.E. class to the next level on the climbing wall. The challenge was to use only one color to traverse the wall. Newman decided to see how far he could stretch by traveling using only the red pegs. The climbing wall is new to the school this year.

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News


As a fourth-grade class at Lincoln Elementary files into the school’s gymnasium, there’s a round of cheers as their physical education teacher, Heidi Huckabone, says their day’s activity will include the climbing wall.

The idea for installing a climbing wall at Lincoln came from Huckabone. “I really like climbing,” she said with a laugh. “My husband and I, for a family vacation, took our kids climbing this past summer and they absolutely loved it. I thought it would be cool if we could look into something for our kids at Lincoln.”

The climbing wall, which sits on the east wall in the school’s gymnasium, has three panels that stretch from the ground to eight feet up. The climbing wall has three different colored pegs — red, yellow and green. The red pegs are the furthest away from the center of the board, and therefore the toughest to maneuver through. The yellow pegs are dispersed around the middle of the wall and the green are clustered closest together near the dividing line of the wall. The wall is divided into two sections — hand pegs and foot pegs — by a red line. The red line is important, Huckabone says, as students are not allowed to step above that line as it keeps them within a safe distance from the ground in case anyone should fall. Thick mats are placed below the wall for that very reason.

Huckabone hopes the other elementary schools in the district will climb on board with the activity. “We’re hoping to do one at Harlan once we get this one finished and I think Van Allen is also working to get one as well,” she said.

When most people think of a rock climbing wall, they think about scaling a 20 foot wall attached to harnesses. This isn’t the case at Lincoln. The school has a traversing wall so students climb their way across the wall, not up. “Our goal is to end up with one more panel so we’re a full 16 feet. We’re also working to raise money so we can make it fully adaptive.”

The wall, so far, has been fully funded by grants and donations. According to Huckabone, the school received $2,500 from Wal-Mart Distribution Center, $500 from West Liberty Foods and $500 from Kit Ming Vierra, a parent who held a LuLaRoe fundraiser in order to purchase the wall.

The climbing wall physically enhances kid’s flexibility and muscular strength, but it also helps develop children’s problem solving and reasoning skills, teamwork and cooperation.

“We’ve done some different things with (the wall) where we’ve had cones out and we move a ball from one cone to the other. They have to figure out how to get low enough doing that using problem solving skills,” explained Huckabone.

On this day in particular, the students had a color challenge, where they were only allowed to use one color to go across the wall.

“The color I’m going to ask you to try to stay with is yellow because that’s about your range,” Huckabone said to her class. “Now, if you want to try red (the color furthest from the center of the wall) you can, but I may ask you to go back and try yellow.”

If the students wanted to challenge themselves, Huckabone said they could try green as it was designed with Kindergartner and first-graders in mind. “You have to work on being smaller and that’s a little harder,” she said of the challenge.

Fourth-grader Jack Newman was ready for the challenge, and even tried to expand his reach as he chose to traverse the wall only using the red pegs. “It was really fun,” he said once he had completed the challenge. “I really like the new experience. (Rock climbing) is something I had never done before.”

Madison Finch said it’s sometimes really hard to find the right footing, but that makes it even better when you make it all the way across the wall. “It’s really exciting,” she said.

“In the next class period, the students will work in teams to scale across the wall. The kids have to give their partner directions. Like right hand on red 13 and left hand on yellow 10. The partner then has to move them across the wall,” Huckabone explained. “We’re working on teamwork, listening and following direction skills.”

“It has been awesome to see the hard work they put into the climbing wall. They have to think outside of the box,” said Huckabone. “And when they get it done, their faces are all smiley. It’s really great to see.”

The climbing wall’s usefulness won’t end after this fitness section is completed. Huckabone said on Thursdays the students have fitness stations they rotate through and the wall will turn into one of the station options. “They’ll have that throughout the year,” said Huckabone.

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