SINGAPORE – When Mr Siau Ek Jin was a primary school student, he refused to enter the pool during compulsory swimming lessons.
The 30-year-old, who has global developmental delay, only overcame his fear with the help of a patient swimming instructor.
In the years since, he has represented Singapore in swimming at international level and even won a bronze medal at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games.
On Saturday, June 4, in hopes of raising awareness among their peers with special needs, Mr. Siau and six others walked from the YMCA building at Orchard Road to Fort Canning Park as part of the organization’s Inclusive Special Needs Challenge. charitable.
This year’s challenge is a continuation of the 2019 YMCA Inclusive Climb, where 10 people with special needs trained intensively before attempting to climb Mount Fuji in Japan.
They were about to reach the summit when the weather conditions suddenly deteriorated and they had to turn back.
However, there are plans to return to Mount Fuji next year to reach the summit, said Ms. Sharon Chan, head of the YMCA’s program division.
This year, ten Ambassadors with special needs will attempt to cover the same distance as climbing Mount Fuji, 3,776m high, and circumnavigating its 120km perimeter.
They will climb stairs, climb hills and hike.
Ms Chan said that by doing the challenge in this way in public places, they hope to show others with special needs that they can do the same everyday things as everyone else and even more.
The challenge, which will run until August 31, aims to raise $150,000 in donations, which will be directed to the YMCA’s community service fund.
The fund supports its vocational training and social development programs, such as art and sports classes, for their clients with special needs. Approximately $35,000 has been raised so far.
The public can register on the YMCA website to participate in the challenge for a $50 entry fee. Donations can also be made directly to the cause on the giving.sg fundraising website.