“Sarah, Sarah, Sarah, Sarah!”
Sarah’s classmates chanted her name as the 6th grader struggled to push through the final section of an overhanging wall sprinkled with stingy 5.10 holds.
“Come on, you’re so close!”
“Don’t give up!”
“You got this!”
These weren’t PG team climbers with a regional championship under their belt, but what they were was impressive in its own right: 12-year-olds cheering each other on and pushing through their fears as they climbed for the first time.
The group initiation was part of “Better Together,” a program that matches 6th graders from several area schools with Santa Clara Firefighters to learn trust, teamwork, and self-confidence.
“It’s a leadership program. We work on leadership skills, communication skills, and self-esteem,” explained Firefighter Beverly Molina of Truck 92. “Planet Granite is a culmination of communication skills and trust…it’s very cool for us to come here.”
Planet Granite is proud to support Better Together by contributing the use of our Sunnyvale gym for climbing. We’ve done so for more than 15 years, dating to the days of the original PG location in Santa Clara.
The Better Together kids took their time working on the cruxes of the climbs they were on.
“When I got higher up, I looked down and it was really nerve-wracking,” said Steven, 12, a student at Don Callejon School. “I kept going. I wanted to complete the climb.”
On Tuesdays throughout the school year, the firefighters and middle-schoolers bond over activities that include visiting senior complexes, as they did on Valentine’s Day this year.
“We talked to them about how things used to be,” said Wiktor, 12, also from Don Callejon. “One person was even born before World War II.”
Spending the day at PG climbing is “a natural fit” for the skills Better Together works on throughout the year, said program coordinator Zachary McGhie.
“Climbing has unique challenges. It is also a sport that many of these students would not have an opportunity to experience,” McGhie said. “We would like to thank Planet Granite for making this event possible.”