Kai Lightner launches Climbing for Change
American rock climber Kai Lightner has launched Climbing for Change, a non-profit organisation that aims to readdress racial inequality in rock climbing and make the outdoor industry.
During this unprecedented period of major social upheaval, as people across the world take stand against racism and discrimination, American rock climber Kai Lightner has decided to play a leading role for his country's rock climbing community and the outdoor industry in general by co-founding Climbing for Change. As the name implies, the non-profit organization aims to adress racial inequality in rock climbing and in the outdoor industry by supporting programs to increase minority participation and make the outdoors a more inclusive environment. Concretely, the organisation hopes to create long term change by gathering funds and and partnering with businesses to provide funding and opportunities for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives for underserved communities
The 20-year-old professional rock climber made a name for himself for his excellent youth competition results, and he topped this up with hard redpoints that include the 9a Era Vella at Margalef in Spain in 2015. His desire to help others, in particular those of colour, was instilled in him at a early age and in early 2019 he decided to abandon competition climbing in order to favour of college and helping his community.
Writing a few days ago on Instagram, Lightner stated "As one of very few African Americans at the top of my sport, I've spent my entire career trying to utilize my platform to help others and be an example of not allowing stereotypes and societal pressures to limit your possibilities. However, lately I’ve been asking myself "What part can I play in transforming our communities for the better? How can I help facilitate long-term change?" In the midst of planning initiatives with my sponsors and different organizations, I decided I wanted to create something bigger. Something that helps remove barriers for diverse participation in our sport and the outdoors. Something that will amplify the efforts of companies working towards creating inclusive spaces in our community. Something that provides a platform for uniting DEI efforts across our industry and supporting community leaders."
If you wish to find out more, and make a donation, check out climbing4change.org
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It's finally here! After having consistent conversations with companies and aspiring allies about diversifying our industry, the consensus was clear; many wanted to create long term change, but few knew how. From volunteering and working with minority outreach programs throughout my career, I knew that many organizations existed that were dedicated to this cause. I didn’t want to create something that overshadowed other voices already doing the work; instead, I wanted to create something that uplifted all of our voices and gave opportunities to up and coming community leaders looking to create change in their own areas. Thus, Climbing for Change was born, an organization dedicated to gathering funds and partnering with businesses to provide funding and opportunities for DEI initiatives across our industry. From scholarship opportunities to facilitating connections, our goal is to assist underserved communities and create a more diverse and inclusive environment in the outdoors. However, this organization is dependent on business partnerships and individual donations to provide opportunities for others. If you are interested in donating, partnering, or learning more about our initiatives, visit our page @climbing4change and check out our website (in the bio). No contribution is too small. Thank you all for joining me on this journey