The physiological and psychological benefits associated with tree climbing are well understood by climbers themselves but the wider public is often blissfully unaware of the value to be found in climbing in our urban forests.
Dr John Gathright, an Canadian living in Japan, is a world leader in creating tree-climbing-based rehabilitation and tree-assisted-therapy for disabled persons. John has written numerous papers on the subject - click here for some interesting comparisons between the benefits of climbing a tree over that of a climbing tower.
Back in 1997, a 57 year old paraplegic Japanese woman named Hikosaka Toshiko, asked John if she would be able to climb one of the tallest trees on the planet - an 80 meter tall sequoia! John's answer was a definitive yes!
One year later, John got together with Peter Jenkins (of Tree Climbing International fame ) to find the best way to help Hikosaka Toshiko achieve her goal.
Finally in 2001, Hikosaka Toshiko became the first paraplegic person in the world to climb to the top of a giant sequoia. To cap-off this history making feat she also spent the night camped atop the tree.
Mass media coverage of this event created plenty of interest in Japan and around the world.
John says, “it was from these roots that Tree Climbing Japan was born” which today, besides teaching recreational climbing, also promotes the program "Treehab for the Disabled".
John is a guest speaker at Wintec in Hamilton on Wednesday 2 March and will be presenting some of his work at an open seminar. Contact Andy Harrison if you want more information.