“I never expected to win an award!” Meet: Susanne Rees – who runs iDID Adventure

Posted on May 30, 2013



How deaf are you and do you use BSL?

I am profoundly deaf due to surgery and meningitis and have no natural hearing.

Since losing my hearing, I have learned BSL and am now involved in the deaf community. It was a really scary time being caught between the deaf and hearing worlds but one I happy to say was made easier by various Deaf individuals who taught me about their fantastic culture. Now I use both BSL and English.

IMG_1909You’re running a rock climbing group for Deaf people – tell us more about it?

Yes, the first iDID Adventure Club is based in Northampton – aptly called ‘iDID Northampton’. The club currently caters for individuals over 14 years of age and focuses on rock climbing as a key sport.

As part of our solution to engagement, we also offer other adventure sports within the club such as canoeing and skiing. We are all really excited for the weather to get warmer so we can start participating in outdoor activities!

It’s fantastic to see how quickly people have progressed in climbing and already we have had a member promotion to a club volunteer because of their development! iDID clubs will act as a training opportunity for climbers to progress to national competitions if they want to… they could be on the next GB Climbing team!

Could you tell me more about your organisation?

iDID Adventure is a social enterprise improving physical and mental health through access and participation in adventure sports.

At iDID, we specialise in providing adventure activities for deaf and disabled people, and have introduced a wide range of people to sports such as Rock Climbing, Canoeing, Wakeboarding, Snowsports and Surfing.

As part of our work at iDID, we support professionals and mainstream organisations to adapt their adventure activities to the needs of deaf and disabled individuals.

An issue we face a lot is that people who are deaf or disabled don’t always identify it as a possibility to take part in these sports, so advocacy and marketing is a huge part of what we do.

How did it feel to win a Specsavers Sound Barrier Star Award for your work?

It was a huge shock to be honest. I never expected it but it is always incredible to get recognition for your work!

I’m passionate in my belief that deaf people should have equal access to opportunities in the adventure industry and when you receive an award, it just fuels that passion and makes you more determined.

It was a strange feeling actually, there was an amazing group of finalists at the awards ceremony including someone with an MBE, so I never expected that my name would be called at all – It is all down to everyone that is involved in iDID.

In fact, it’s due to everyone that has been involved in my life over the last few years and the deaf community for teaching me a wonderful new way of living!

You recently appeared on See Hear. Tell us more about that!

See Hear have such a great team and it was really fantastic to get our club members excited about being filmed!

I was really nervous if I’m honest as I don’t think I am great in front of a camera and I think I expected it to be really daunting but, everything went really smoothly and the climbers had fun… that’s the most important thing!

What would you say to someone who was thinking about coming to one of your events?

The important thing to remember about the adventure club is that it offers both a social opportunity and sport development.

Members can be as involved in improving their skills and taking part in competitions as they like but we don’t put pressure on those people who just want to have some fun.

The beauty of the iDID structure and the sports themselves, is that individuals can learn about risk and challenge themselves in a safe environment with the support of other members.

We hope to offer deaf organisations support and knowledge to use the iDID model allowing themto create their own iDID Adventure club and become part of a network of inclusive iDID clubs!

You can find out more on the iDID website: www.ididadventure.co.uk

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Posted in: interviews