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The Mountain Moments Project

Sport NI - Build Back Better 

In 2021 Gilford Youth Climbing Club and Gilford Climbing Club (Adults)  partnered with Sport NI and introduced the ‘Mountain Moments’ Project. With the support of Sport NI and the funding from Build Back Better, Project Re-boot the clubs were able to develop and diversify their members and give back to the community. One of the goals of the project was to foster a climate of learning and development for all and to promote shared experiences and well-being. The project team wanted the training, education and development to be done with a twist of innovation, making this a truly unique project. They partnered with local climber, author and artist Ciéra Clayton to provide a storytelling element to the project and be the project leader. 


Creative Climbing

In May 2021 Ciéra reached out to a number of local Primary Schools within a 10 Mile radius of Gilford Community Center, where the Gilford Youth Climbing Club is situated. A great response was shown from the following schools: Gilford Primary, Scarva Primary, Moyallon Primary, Tandragee Primary, Derryhale Primary and Bleary Primary. 

Ciéra visited these 6 Primary schools before the end of the 2021 school year and spent time with the P3/P4 groups talking about climbing (177 kids!) Ciéra explained the differences between climbing and bouldering and how the sport also changes if you’re indoors or outdoors. She shared images from her own climbing experiences, complete with photos of her with her cat George bouldering in Fairhead, which the kids all thoroughly enjoyed. Ciéra then encouraged the kids to think about animals that climb and what their strengths are in this area and how we can learn from them. Ending the sessions with a reading of her children’s picture book, “I Want to Climb Like the Animals Do!”. As part of the project, Gilford Youth Climbing Club donated copies of “I Want to Climb Like the Animals Do!” to all of the children from these classes. These 6 primary schools and a further 35 primary schools, within an 8 mile radius of Gilford town, also had this book donated to their school library along with an invitation to join a free practical introduction to climbing sessions at Gilford Community Centre. These event days were run by volunteers from the Gilford Youth Climbing Club and Gilford Climbing Club (Adults) where we had 112 Children under 10 participate! (In addition to these there were 6 other event days held for Youth 11-18, Families and Women only which also proved to be highly effective and had strong attendance)

While visiting with the pupils at the schools, the kids were asked to enter in the Mountain Moments drawing competition;  to draw something related to what they had learnt that day, or to colour in one of the drawings provided by Ciéra, which are excerpts from her book “I Want to Climb Like the Animals Do!”. There were 208 entries for the competition, there was amazing talent and it is so exciting to see kids being creative with climbing! Six drawings from each school were chosen to have their drawings presented in a beautiful book titled “Creative Climbing”. This book explains the Mountain Moments Project, the aim of the school visits and showcases the competition winners, with their name and ages listed on each page alongside some fun facts about climbing and the animals shown in the images. 

20 copies of this book were printed as part of the project within 1 being donated to each of the 6 schools. The remaining copies of this book were then sold to generate money for the club, building on their self-sufficiency. If you would like to support the club, a few copies of this book are still available to purchase here. 

There are a lot of new faces at the club thanks to the school visit and associated introductory day events and we are really excited to see the local climbing community grow and also to encourage and inspire creativity in the children too. 

The Mourne You Know

Ciéra also worked with members of the Gilford Youth Climbing Club to join in this story telling adventure to create the beautiful and educational book “The Mourne You Know”, detailing the history of the Mourne Wall, the flora, the fauna and climbing in the area and mixed with beautiful poems and illustrations throughout. 

The Youth wanted to share their knowledge and experiences of the Mournes with the public to encourage exploration and enjoyment of the area. Starting with a group of 8 the youth worked together to create the content of the book. They discussed and agreed what was important to them and mapped out the chapters they wanted to design. They shared their own experiences in the Mournes with Ciéra and the rest of the group to get the creative juices flowing. 

This group also took part in outdoor climbing and mountaineering activities as part of the Mountain Moments project to develop and build their knowledge of the subjects they wanted to discuss in the book. The book was then story boarded and each chapter was planned over a 3 month period. 

 The artwork and text were created by a smaller group: Áine McCorry, Lauren Magee, Cara Scullion, Caitlyn Colgan and Ciéra Clayton and the final design and creation was completed by Ciera Clayton. 100 copies of the book were  printed through the Mountain Moments project for reselling through the club in order to generate money for the Climbing Clubs. 

The group thoroughly enjoyed the project and making of the book. The creative process allowed them to build and develop skills in areas such as design, painting, drawing, storyboarding and creative writing.  They were able to build team building skills as well as learning to work alone and be accountable for their specific chapters of the book. They were able to engage in practical hands-on experiences in the wild while climbing and hiking in the area to learn more about the Mourne Mountains and climbing in this area.

The creation of this book has given these 16-18 year olds a small legacy to share with the world and foundation of skills to develop from and the book is truly beautiful and well-presented and thought out. This project really helped to re-engage the older youth members of the club and keep them interested in climbing and also get them excited to climb outdoors. It also encouraged them to think about their impact on the environment and what they can do to help protect the Mournes when in the area. 

Special thanks to Sport NI for supporting the Gilford Youth Climbing Club and Gilford Climbing Club (Adults) in the Mountain Moments project and their partner Ciéra Clayton in teaching the youth the process of self-publishing, encouraging them not only in their climbing journeys but also their creative projects. 

If you wish to support the Climbing Clubs The Mourne You Know is still for sale via this site. 

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