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What is Challenge?
“Tell me‚ I’ll forget. Show me‚ I may remember. But
and I’ll understand.”
- Chinese Proverb
What is Challenge Education?
Challenge Education is an action-oriented methodology
that utilizes elements of risk taking, problem solving, and purposeful reflection to
enable individuals to learn and grow from experiences. Its theoretical principles are
based on the philosophy of Experiential Education, which proposes engaging learners
in the educational process, promoting a hands on approach, and stimulating authentic
thoughts and reflections in order to promote effective learning.
What are Challenge Courses?
A challenge course participant is given a boost onto the accessible climbing tower by a challenge course facilitator. (Photo by Bradford Woods.)
Challenge courses are made up of a series of structures or elements
that are built in order to challenge participants physically, emotionally and mentally.
These structures can be built close to the ground (low course) or stand high above the
ground (high course), and are mostly constructed on trees, poles or metal structures.
Challenge courses are typically built outdoors, but indoor courses are becoming
increasingly popular because people can use them year round.
What is Universal Challenge?
Over the course of the last decade the needs of people with
disabilities gained unprecedented attention in both a broad range of public and private
services and programs. The challenge course has industry also experienced tremendous growth and
has become more diverse in the programs they provide and the people they serve. In order to meet the needs of a greater number of
participants, challenge programmers have had to reevaluate the way the actual courses
are built and the way that the programs are designed and implemented.
A professional facilitator uses a hip belay system to ensure the safety of a program participant. (Photo by Bradford Woods)
Many challenge programs across the country have risen to the task of providing
courses that are useable by all people and to design programs that allow people of
all abilities to successfully participate. This is the concept of
Universal Design. Ron Mace defines Universal Design as ‚ "the design of products and
environments to be usable by all people‚to the greatest extent possible‚ without the
need for adaptation or specialized design‚" (Cited in Preise & Ostrof‚ 2001).
This video clip shows a participant climbing the tower at Bradford Woods with the assistance of a facilitator
climbing in tandem. Video courtesy of Bradford Woods.
Universal design of challenge courses shapes not only
the physical design of the challenge elements but also the physical
environment‚ staff training‚ support structures and program design.
A program that is universally designed creates a broadly inclusive
environment that transcends disability rather than compensating for
the lack of ability and can address a multitude of program and participant goals.
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