The climbing workshop in the European BRIDGES programme promotes intercultural coexistence through sport

  • The workshop is one of the sports activities included in the BRIDGES programme currently taking place in Tortosa.
  • Classes began on 12 February and take place every Wednesday and Friday at the Tortosa climbing wall (rockodrome) alongside climbing and walking trips to local hills and mountains.
  • Tortosa city council and the Unió de Consells Esportius de Catalunya (UCEC) represent Catalonia in this European initiative aimed at promoting social cohesion.

Tortosa, 27 February 2020 – The European BRIDGES programme works towards the promotion of inclusive communities in Europe and to help the integration of local groups of citizens by strengthening solidarity. Climbing is one of the sporting activities designed to favour and promote intercultural coexistence in the programme. The climbing classes started on 12 February and have had a very positive and encouraging response from participants.

“Climbing is an all-round physical activity. Anyone trying it will discover muscles they didn’t know they had. On top of that, it also makes your mind work. When you climb, you can only think about that, and not get distracted. It is a good mental exercise which helps you grow. Climbing means constantly overcoming obstacles and improving yourself as you must have a complete coordination between your body and your mind,” explains Manolo Navarro, in charge of running the workshop. Manolo is a climbing instructor for the Unió Excursionista de Catalunya (UEC hiking group) in Tortosa as well as working for a social group in town. The other instructor is Ismail, from Morocco, who has previously worked on another social activity based on climbing called Tamunt.

“This kind of activity is important to form relationships because otherwise we would never get to know each other. Climbing, you realize that we’re all the same and that we can all do the same things. It does away with many stereotypes and labels that we give each other. Everyone should try an activity like this and create synergies with other people,” says 20-year-old Sharay, one of the participants. She also says that she enjoys the trust and confidence you gain with your partners which goes beyond the climbing activity itself.

One interesting fact about the workshop is that so far only girls and women, between 12 and 20 years old, have joined. A mixture of immigrants (mainly from Morocco) and local citizens, some have joined the workshop recommended by other social groups, whereas some have put their name down individually. For example, Nawal and Maryem, 13 years old, came to Tortosa about 18 months ago. They found out about the climbing workshop thanks to the Atzavara Arrels association and signed up straight away. Doing sport, meeting people, learning new things, gaining self-confidence, and making friends are among the reasons they give for taking up climbing in the BRIDGES programme.

In March the participants will go on an outing in the countryside. The first outing will involve a walk from Tortosa to the local Coll de l’Alba hill and visiting the large cross on the top of Coll Redó.