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Volunteers help sick kids reach the top

By Zhu Lixin in Hefei | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-06 09:08

Two volunteers and a child with a rare disease pose for a photo at Huangshan Mountain in East China's Anhui province on Monday. FAN CHENGZHU/FOR CHINA DAILY

Nine-year-old Lyu Jingwen, who is wheelchair-bound due to spinal muscular atrophy, scaled the peaks of Huangshan Mountain in Anhui province on Monday with the help of volunteers.

As part of a charity program to celebrate Children's Day, which was on Saturday, Jingwen and 38 other children with rare diseases from across the country were carried up the mountain.

"After learning about the mountain through a textbook in school, I had been dreaming of visiting it, but I thought I had no chance to make it to the top," she said.

Jingwen, who lives in Guangdong province, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy when she was about two years old and cannot stand on her own.

The mountain, also known as Yellow Mountain, is inscribed on UNESCO's world cultural heritage list and its natural heritage list. A UNESCO Global Geopark, it has a spectacular granite landscape.

The activity was supported by more than 150 volunteers from nine teams, including the scenic spot's volunteer service team and the local Blue Sky Rescue team.

Though there were cable cars to help relieve the volunteers' burden, they had to carry the children in their wheelchairs for most of the journey.

Cheng Jian, one of the main organizers of the charity program, has paraplegia. He has been organizing the program since 2006, when 26 handicapped people were brought to the mountain peaks.

"After initial contacts with children with rare diseases years ago, I started to learn about their suffering and that of their families," Cheng said. He expanded the volunteer service to children with rare diseases in 2021.

"I hoped to help give them some encouragement," he said.

Jingwen's mother, Tao Yang, said, "We can hardly travel with her on our own, let alone climb mountains."

She said the journey to the mountain meant a lot to Jingwen and the rest of the family.

Du Xu, one of the volunteers and a sophomore at Huangshan University, said, "Seeing the children getting excited made me really happy."

Cheng said the program has helped more than 1,000 handicapped people from around the world visit the mountain, with the help of more than 5,300 volunteers.

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