【Report】7th BreakTalks “Bouldering for Everyone” – Special Event for International Women’s Day (March 8, 2023)

On March 8th, we hosted the 7th BreakTalks with Sumitomo Corporation (*1) as a special event for International Women’s Day. We invited professional climber Mr. Kai Harada as a speaker, a representative of Japan in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, whom Sumitomo sponsors. Within this event we welcomed nineteen participants.

Mr. Harada won the bouldering event at the 2018 World Championships and is a leading climber in Japan, representing the country in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. He believes in “Overcoming Oneself” and trains daily. He also promotes and shares his passion for climbing through various media.

The event began with a talk session between Mr. Harada and moderator Orime from S.C.P. Japan. Mr. Harada began by explaining that bouldering is one of three disciplines in sports climbing, in which one climbs walls between 4 and 5 meters in height, using only their body, without any equipment.

When Mr. Harada was young, he happened to stop by at a climbing facility. He was immediately drawn to the sport as he saw that everyone, regardless of gender or age, was enjoying themselves. “Before competitions, what we athletes do is to discuss the climbing routes together. I think this sums up what the sport is all about. It’s really special.”

Climbing was more than just a sport to Mr. Harada, who was raised in a single-parent household. He says the climbing got him through the tough period. “It was hard growing up, but I always looked forward to practicing with my friends at the gym. I have been actively working with non-profit organizations that support children, because I want to give the same opportunities to other young people.”

Interestingly, climbing is said to be a sport where the difference between men and women is not felt as much. “It is often the case that women perform better than men on the same climbing challenge,” says Mr. Harada. Climbing seems like a good sport that women can challenge themselves.

After the talk, two panellists joined the discussion; Ms. Yui Shirai, who is organizing climbing outreach activities for people with disabilities at Monkey Magic, and Ms. Yuiko Inoue, who oversees a sports program for girls with disabilities at S.C.P. Japan.

With the motto “We can overcome invisible walls,” Monkey Magic started as a climbing school for people with visual impairments. They introduced their unique method called “HKK” for conveying the position of the holds to visually impaired climbers. They now welcome participants with other disabilities as well.

Meanwhile, Ms. Inoue said it’s not always easy for girls with disabilities to participate in sports. “When offering sports classes for children with disabilities (for both genders), we have overwhelmingly more boys than girls. We thought we’d need a different way to reach out to girls.”  S.C.P. Japan’s “Find Fun” sports program was then designed for girls with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and it has been successful with about ten participants attending each time.

Mr. Harada also shared that climbing is a sport where physical abilities or gender of the athlete does not define their performance. “Climbing provides a space where individuals can challenge themselves while also supporting and helping each other.”

Concluding the event, all agreed on the importance of providing both a safe and enjoyable space for physical activity, where individuals can challenge themselves while also feeling supported.

S.C.P. Japan aims to create a platform for diversity and inclusivity through BreakTalks, inviting various guests and showcasing different activities.

This BreakTalks event was made possible through the support of Sumitomo Corporation. A member of Sumitomo’s 100SEED program(*2), which encourages social entrepreneurship, kindly provided assistance for S.C.P. Japan and that is how it started.

■ For details on the support provided to S.C.P. Japan by Sumitomo Corporation’s pro bono team, please click here (Japanese):

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Mr. Harada, Ms. Shirai, Sumitomo Corporation, the sign language interpreters, and all the participants.

*1 Since 2018, Sumitomo Corporation has been sponsoring the Japan Mountaineering and Sport Climbing Association as a “gold sponsor”. In 2019, they signed a sponsorship contract with Mr. Kai Harada.

Sport Climbing | Sumitomo Corporation: https://www.sumitomocorp.com/ja/jp/special/climbing

*2 Sumitomo Corporation’s “100SEED” is a social contribution program in which Sumitomo Corporation group employees from around the world engage in dialogue and actively participate to address educational challenges in their respective local communities under the theme of “quality education.”

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