Brisbane State High School has allowed students to explore everything from fashion to sport to music, but until recently, that scope left out school captain Mia Rowland’s passion: climbing.

Wanting to create a place for people to explore climbing, Mia and now past student Robert Blows banded together to launch the BSHS Rock Climbing Program. Mia was an avid climber prior to starting at BSHS and had always been disappointed that she could not represent her school in rock climbing. That changed when fellow climber Robert approached her and two other friends about creating a program for the next generation of climbers coming through BSHS. “Our school is conveniently situated less than 1.5 kilometres from Urban Climb, West End, one of Australia’s best rock-climbing gyms, so we figured that if we could manage the administrative logistics involved, we could make it happen and do it well,” Mia said.

The school community rallied around the program, with critical support from classmates Zak Buhmann, Jesse Ruffini, BSHS teacher Ms Trina Denner and executive principal Mr Wade Haynes.

For two hours, one afternoon a week, 35 students from BSHS, alongside coaches Mia, Zak, Jesse and Flora Froese meet at Urban Climb.

The sessions include different activities centred on rock climbing techniques, strength, fitness and even a touch of climbing psychology.

After being heavily involved in the sport for more than eight years, Mia, who placed fourth in Queensland in Women’s Open A for both bouldering and lead climbing in 2015, has recently decided to take a non-competitive approach to rock climbing. Now, she continues the sport merely for relaxation and fun.

“I achieve this through pushing not only myself, but also others, to achieve our goals,” she said.

Founder and coach Robert has been an enthusiastic climber for nearly six years.

“Rock climbing as a sport and as a community provided me with a way to relieve my stress, make new friends and push myself,” he said.

“Teaching the new generation of climbers is by far the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”

Robert, now a student at UQ studying a Bachelor of Economics and International Relations, has a strong passion both for the sport and coaching future generations. “I had wanted to bring about a climbing program at State High for some time but it wasn’t until my last year at BSHS that Mia, Jesse, Zak and I fought to make that dream a reality,” said Robert.

After high school, Mia wants to pursue a career in politics, but wants to preserve the skills gained by climbing, and the legacy she hopes she and Robert will leave behind.

“Climbing requires a consistent mixture of thought, strength, precision and commitment, creating a new, unique and interesting challenge no matter how often you climb,” said Mia. “All of the coaches want to continue volunteering with the program into the future, but we also decided that it would last longer than us.”

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