WEST POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 23, 2011) -- Beginning in March, Child, Youth and School Services will extend the time of accessibility for the new rock-climbing wall in the Teen Center.

The operation hours for the wall will be 3-5 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, according to Maureen Harter, program director.

"Previously our hours were Friday nights and we wanted to reach more kids in the community," Harter said.

Participants will have the opportunity to learn the basics of rock climbing on this state-of-the-art, 24-foot tall and 12-foot wide wall located inside the teen center gymnasium.

"What we have been doing is a lot of free recreational climbing and just letting them get used to climbing," Harter said. "When we open it up in this new schedule, we are going to get into more techniques and instruction on the proper way to climb so they can improve the more they attend."

Participants only need to bring themselves in comfortable athletic clothing and the CYSS will provide everything else.

"Already we have seen an increase in interest due to the time change," Harter said. " Right now we expect 12-to-14 kids per meeting and if more interest grows, we will look into adding more days to the class."

Harter has been climbing since 2003 and was certified in November by the Professional Climbing Instructor Association to teach individuals climbing techniques. While climbing may not be a typical sport most children become involved with, there are many benefits learned from the sport.

"Climbing allows people to grow at their own pace," Harter said. "It allows someone to build self-confidence as they are building physical strength and they continue to progress with the climbing experience in the sport."

The goal of the program is not only to open individuals' eyes to a new avenue in athletics, but also for students to progress to the point where they can advance to more difficult techniques
and environments.

"This summer we are hoping to open the class to some outdoor climbing walls as well," Harter said. "We don't have that solidified yet, but we are talking to some professionals and West Point to make it happen."