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The Rocinha Favela below the North face of the Two Brothers Peak, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Photo by Asa Firestone
Andrew Lenz teaching at the Centro de Escalada Urbana, Rio de Janiero.
Photo by Asa Firestone

Climbing and the Rio de Janeiro favelas

25.11.2012 by Planetmountain

Asa Firestone and the Centro de Escalada Urbana, the climbing initiative to help children living in the favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Can climbing help kids from the slums of Rio? This is the question which Asa Firestone asked himself in 2003. The American climber had visited Rio de Janeiro intent of climbing the marvellous granite Two Brothers Peak above the world-famous Ipanema Beach, but at the time the mountain which rises directly out of one of the largest favela in Brasil - the 200,000-strong Rocinha favela - was considered simply too dangerous.

"I was frustrated that a peak could not be climbed because of crime." explained Firestone, who then realised "(...) that the local resource for climbing presented a unique opportunity for kids from the slums of Rio to replace the risks of drugs, violence, and gangs, with the healthier risks of rock climbing and adventure."

Firestone teamed up with local climber Andrew Lenz who shared a similar vision and the two developed the Centro de Escalada Urbana, the first climbing school in the favela. "I decided to do my part to change that by sharing my positive experiences of climbing with the favela community" explained Firestone, adding "By providing outdoor education and enabling access to the climbing resources just above the favelas, the power of adventure can be harnessed to change lives."

Although this superb initiative receives some help from institutions, the task at hand is so big that it obviously needs further support. With this in mind Firestone has established Go Beyond Gear, a social enterprise which donates part of its profits to the CEU school which is currently teaching climbing to 15 Rio youths and which now plans to build a climbing wall within a safe, governmental sports complex.

For those who, like Firestone, really believe that climbing and outdoor adventures can help, provide hope and have a positive influence on people's lives, we highly consider this video and finding out more on www.gobeyondgear.com

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