10 S'porean climbers with disabilities summit Mount Fuji in Japan

Great job.

Brenda Khoo | September 02, 2023, 04:56 PM

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A total of 10 Singaporean climbers with disabilities successfully scaled the summit of Mount Fuji, Japan, on Aug. 26.

The YMCA of Singapore’s Special Needs ambassadors, who are in their 20s and 30s, scaled Japan's tallest mountain, which is 3,776m tall.

They made the summit as part of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) Special Needs Inclusive Challenge.

The ambassadors' conditions included Down syndrome, global developmental delay, or autism.

Not an easy hike, tough preparations

They succeeded in their attempt with 16 caregivers, coaches and volunteers.

According to giving.sg, the challenge aims to raise S$200,000 in funding for YMCA programmes to train and advocate for youths with disabilities.

Before the hike, the climbers went through 12 weeks of intensive training, which included hiking at Dairy Farm Nature Park, as well as climbing up and down the 47-storey SkyVille@Dawson.

These were done multiple times during each session.

The eventual hike was not easy because some climbers reportedly suffered from nausea, headaches and other symptoms of altitude sickness during the three-day climb.

'Managed to make it to the top' this time

One of the climbers, Gareth Chua, 24, made it to the summit together with his father.

He told The Straits Times:

“One of the most exciting moments was reaching the top of the mountain. I could see a panoramic view with the sunrise and small buildings below.

I also improved my hiking skills as I overcame the rocky trails and steep steps using a hiking pole.”

Chua has autism and works as a warehouse assistant.

Clara Toh, 25, YMCA of Singapore’s marketing and corporate communications senior executive, said they “managed to make it to the top together” this time.

Their last attempt at scaling Mount Fuji in 2019 was not successful because of heavy rain.

Father-son duo Howard and Ryan Yap also successfully made the expedition together.

Ryan, 26, has Down syndrome and works in a canteen in a sheltered workshop.

The older Yap said:

"I feel proud of the whole team. Ryan did his best and endured all the way without complaint, even waking up at 3am for the climb.

Doing different activities helps Ryan in different ways, such as improving his balance, focus and stamina. Being in nature calms him down and he learns how to take care of others in the group.

Besides, when he’s hiking, he can’t use his mobile phone.”

Top image from YMCA of Singapore/Facebook.