A girls-only rock climbing class in the Annapolis Valley says it teaches girls physical and mental strength.

Rock Divas in Canning, N.S., is the first climbing program of its kind in the Valley. It has six young members.

Erin Gullison, 14, said a lot was at stake when she started with Rock Divas a few weeks ago.

"At first it didn't seem like a good idea. At first I felt like, you know what, I'm just going to fail,” she said.

'I'm not fragile; I'm more tough.'- Lee Baldwin

"I had a lot of insecurity when I first came here, I thought, OK, I didn't want to wear tight clothes because I thought that like, maybe I'm overweight or maybe everyone's going to judge me.”

But putting in the hours twice a week has built her confidence on the climbing wall and in life.

"Just be myself instead of always trying to show people that I'm someone different than who I really am,” she said.

She says it's also helped her reach out to students at school who seem isolated.

"I've been through that situation myself and so I can voluntarily go up to them and ask them if they want someone to hang out with so that they're not alienated from the group," she said.

Inner and outer strength

Instructors Bekah Reagan and Heather Rebman say kids meet twice a week and set a goal for each class.

"With bouldering, you have to trust your body. It's about confidence in your movement and balance and flexibility,” Reagan said. "It's so important that kids learn that they can build their inner and outer strength."

The girls spend time after the class talking about other issues, from school to personal lives.

"I'm not fragile; I'm more tough. It just makes me feel happy,” said Lee Baldwin, 11.

The climbing wall opened a few months ago. Rock Divas, a free program, is run by the Canning recreation department. It runs until the end of May. 

Organizers say they hope to run it again in the fall.