SINGAPORE - Over the next three months, eight people with special needs in Singapore will each attempt to scale the equivalent of Mount Fuji which stands at 3,776m.
They will climb hills and stairs around Singapore, and track the distance on the Strava mobile app.
The eight are participants of YMCA's Special Needs Inclusive Challenge 2021, which was flagged off by President Halimah Yacob at the Istana early on Saturday (Feb 27).
It aims to raise $250,000 to support YMCA's programmes for young people with special needs, and will end on May 29.
Addressing participants in a recorded message, Madam Halimah said: "I am encouraged by the confidence and courage shown by YMCA and their special needs ambassadors. It proves that those with special needs also have special talents."
Among the eight are returning participants Ms Oh Siew May, 50, and Mr Harun Rahamad, 32, who both took part in a 2019 edition of the challenge in Japan. They climbed Mount Fuji together with eight others but had to abandon the effort less than 500m from the top because of harsh weather.
"We had fun and the team spirit was strong," said Ms Oh, adding that this year's challenge will be tougher, as social distancing rules mean that she may have less moral support.
They will also be joined this year by new recruits to the YMCA special needs ambassador team, including singer Kelvin Tan, para-athlete Siau Ek Jin, and para-athlete and motivational speaker Darren Chua.
Ms Oh said: "Disabled does not mean being unable. For those with special needs and those going through hard times due to Covid-19, I want to stir up our spirits and show that we can get by with determination no matter how difficult things may be."
Mr Rahamad said his experience in 2019 was fruitful, as it helped to build his self-confidence. He added that he hopes others will join in the virtual climb as well.
Those who wish to contribute to the challenge, either by donating or by participating in the challenge as a fund raiser, can do so here.
The final day for registration is April 29, and participants can choose to either climb Mount Fuji virtually, or walk, run or cycle its 125km perimeter.
Participants can sign up as either individuals or groups, and 120 have signed up thus far.
Sign-ups are $38 per person, but are free for those with special needs.
Madam Halimah said: "It is all the more meaningful that this challenge is not a race but a collaborative effort. It is heartening that many Singaporeans will be joining in the challenge to show their support and solidarity for persons with special needs.
"I hope to see more coming on board to support our friends with special needs in their journey as independent contributors in an inclusive society."