Wheels on the wild side

Wheels on the wild side

SINGAPORE - Confined to a wheelchair, he has never been on a trek in the wild.

But last week, Mr Calvin Chua, 33, went on a nature trek at Pulau Ubin with four other wheelchair-bound beneficiaries from the Muscular Dystrophy Association Singapore (MDAS).

Muscular dystrophy is a genetic condition that affects muscular strength and is incurable.

The trek was planned by 11 Catholic Junior College students in the Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) programme.

Special arrangements had to be made for travel to Pulau Ubin by boat.

Ms Fiona Seah, head of corporate communications and marketing at OBS, said the OBS compound at Pulau Ubin is not very wheelchair-friendly.

So the students placed "makeshift planks" to help the wheelchairs navigate the rocky terrain.

Steep slope

During the 2km trek, the students led the five men up a steep slope, guided them through puddles of mud, and then took them down the hill.

Mr Thomas Teo, 37, almost got his wheelchair stuck in the mud halfway through the trek and "panicked", but the students quickly helped him out.

The men's perseverance was rewarded when they reached the OBS' in-house reservoir, where they spent some time chatting and enjoying the scenic view.

"I think it's quite a good experience," MrChua said of the trek. "I don't get close to nature very often."

He took home a leaf and some flowers as keepsakes.

Mr Lim Kay Chong, 23, said that he would like to "come here again to relax".

The students found it rewarding as well.

Lee Min Janine, 17, said: "It's heart-warming to see them so excited."

Leong Li-Anne, also 17, felt that this was "only right" as one should "give back to society". The nature trek, co-organised by OBS and MDAS, is the first of its kind.

MDAS hopes to have overnight camps in OBS for its beneficiaries in the future

jazlynk@sph.com.sg


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