(Above: Climb participants show significant improvements in the skills we all need to survive daily life, including working memory: the ability to remember information and instructions.)

Life is stressful.

Every day, we are faced with decisions and tasks that come flying at us from all directions. Our brains respond like air traffic control, prioritizing what needs to be done while managing multiple distractions and trying to stay calm.

Unfortunately, the chronic stress of living in poverty and struggling to cover basic needs like food and housing compromises our ability to navigate these ups and downs effectively.

A recent analysis of Climb participants shows a significant improvement in many so-called executive functioning skills, notably emotional regulation, organization, and the ability to remember information and instructions. In the analysis, more than half of the moms served reported an improvement in working memory.

 “At Climb, I learned that I had these executive functioning skills. I just needed to know how to access them and apply them to my life and work.”

-Taylor, Climb Wyoming Graduate

“At Climb, I learned that I had these executive functioning skills,” says recent grad Taylor, who completed her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training this year. “I just needed to know how to access them and apply them to my life and work.”

One example: learning that CNA clinicals would start at the hospital at 6 a.m. “We flipped our lids,” Taylor admits of her group’s reaction to the early start. “We freaked out, wondering how we were going to manage childcare and everything else with this training schedule.

“On the spot, we practiced how to slow down, take a deep breath, and make a plan. Together, we created a schedule that worked for our families—we set up a plan to study together and a routine for taking tests. It was like reprogramming our brains, and it worked.”

Executive Functioning Skills are what we all need to survive everyday life, including planning, goal setting, emotional regulation, and decision making.

Taylor was also able to see how life had prepared her more than she realized. “Before Climb, I was a waitress. As a server, I had to manage more than one thing at a time, from being in the kitchen to handling and remembering orders. All of this added up to something I could use in a new career.”

Now, as the Life Enrichment Director at Spring Wind, a senior living facility in Laramie, Taylor gets to practice using the skills she learned at Climb every day. She’s already moved into management after less than a year and is tasked with coordinating all the facility’s activities, juggling calendars and overseeing staff.

“If it wasn’t for Climb, I wouldn’t have recognized that I could do this job—I didn’t think I had enough experience or education. Climb helped pick me up off the floor and made me recognize who I was.”