A Nation-wide Hike Up “Mt Fuji” for Special Needs Inclusivity
Siau Ek Jin, who has Global Development Delay, refused to get into the pool during his primary school’s compulsory swimming lessons. Years later, with support from a swimming instructor and his mother, he overcame his fears and has even represented Singapore at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi, where he clinched a bronze medal for the country.
This spirit of maximising one’s potential and rising above life’s challenges to reach newer heights is what the YMCA Special Needs Inclusive Challenge embodies. Since 2021, the challenge has been open to all members of the public – where participants hiked around Singapore to accumulate enough elevation or distance travelled to summit or go around Mt Fuji virtually. Together, the participants and YMCA Special Needs Ambassadors raise funds and awareness for persons with special needs.
It is a continuation of the YMCA Inclusive Climb 2019, where 10 persons with special needs underwent intensive physical training before challenging Japan’s tallest mountain, Mt Fuji. It was an extraordinary journey of self-discovery, where the clients built on their resilience, confidence, and independence. They were also able to advocate for special needs inclusion and showed the world that they were capable of more than imagined.
Ek Jin served as a YMCA Special Needs Ambassador last year, taking part in the challenge alongside over 800 members of the public. This year, Ek Jin returns again to join 9 other YMCA Special Needs Ambassadors in the YMCA Special Needs Inclusive Challenge 2022.
This event was launched on 4 June from the YMCA of Singapore, where the YMCA Special Needs Ambassadors and corporate partners from Rajah and Tann Singapore started their first hike to achieve elevation gain at Fort Canning Park. Members of the public are welcome to sign up and join in the challenge any time during the challenge period from 4 June to 31 August 2022.
“Our youth clients with special needs have displayed tremendous determination to rise above their unique life challenges. Through this challenge, we hope to provide them with a platform to unlock new milestones and for the public to show their solidarity and support towards building a more inclusive Singapore for all,” said Sharon Chan, Division Head (Programmes), YMCA of Singapore.
Contributed by Sim Yu Xiang