Cycling for Youth with Special Needs at the YMCA Special Needs Inclusive Cycling Challenge 2021

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On 4 July 2021, a team of five joined the YMCA Special Needs Inclusive Cycling Challenge to cycle 125 km, the perimeter of Mount Fuji, held at Shimano Cycling World in Singapore. The event is part of the YMCA Special Needs Inclusive Challenge 2021, which engages the public in raising funds and awareness for youth with special needs.

The team consists of:

Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Speaker of the Parliament of Singapore

Mr Steve Loh, General Secretary & CEO, YMCA of Singapore

Mr Siau Ek Jin, Special Needs Ambassador with Global Development Delay, YMCA of Singapore

Mr Ryan Yap, Special Needs Ambassador with Down Syndrome, YMCA of Singapore

Ms Claire Jedrek, Presenter, Athlete and Friend of YMCA

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Everyone was first given a tour of Shimano Cycling World where they gained insights on bicycles throughout history, before proceeding for the indoor virtual cycling experience. The bicycles are fitted with tablets synchronised to the Zwift application, where information about the cyclists’ journey is updated in real-time, along with scenic animations to make the cycling experience more enjoyable. The cycling experience even included virtual uphill slopes to add on to the challenge! After a gruelling 1 hour 30 mins, the team managed to clock 125 km with their sheer determination and strong team spirit.

 

(From left) Chuan-Jin and Claire are all pumped up for the challenge.

“The youths’ steadfast determination in completing this cycling challenge speaks to their inspiring can-do spirit in putting in their very best to reach their fullest potential. I thus urge everyone to also show your support and join in their efforts to raise awareness on the importance of providing opportunities for those with special needs.”, said Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Speaker of the Parliament of Singapore.

The YMCA Inclusive Challenge 2021 is a continuation of the first-ever YMCA Inclusive Climb in 2019, which saw a team of 10 special needs clients rise above unique difficulties to challenge Mount Fuji. The team, consisting of those with visual impairments, cerebral palsy, autism, and a bone cancer survivor, underwent intensive physical training before scaling the mountain. They proved that persons with special needs could achieve great heights beyond imagination.

Due to COVID-19, the YMCA Inclusive Challenge 2021 continues this spirit of championing special needs virtually, and welcomes members of the public to climb 3,776m or walk/run/cycle 125km to conquer Mt Fuji alongside YMCA Special Needs Ambassadors. The YMCA Inclusive Cycling Challenge contributes to these efforts and serves to promote YMCA’s vision to develop youth with special needs through sports.

To date, over 760 participants have raised some $173,000 for YMCA special needs programmes through the YMCA Inclusive Challenge 2021. The YMCA aims to raise $250,000 by the end of the challenge on 9 August. These programmes include arts, sports, and vocational training programmes such as the YMCA Special Needs Hospitality Training Programme, a 6-month internship to equip clients with work skills and experience.

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(From left) Steve, Ryan and Ek Jin celebrating the completion of the cycling challenge.

“We are so thankful for the overwhelming support shown by our partners, donors, and members of the public thus far. This is a national effort to show support and solidarity for our friends with special needs, and encourage the building of an inclusive Singapore for all,“ said Mr Steve Loh, General Secretary & CEO, YMCA of Singapore.

By Kelvin Sim and Clara Toh