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Disabled kids gearing up before North Pole conquest

Published time: February 21, 2012 10:49
Edited time: February 21, 2012 16:22

The North Pole. (RIA Novosti / G. Koposov)

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Living with a disability is a challenge itself, but a group of special-needs children have set themselves even higher tasks, gathering in the Moscow Region to take part in the selection for the North Pole expedition.

­Unlimited mobility for people with disabilities is slowly, is slowly becoming a common theme in modern Russian society.

Adventure Lab run by Matvey Shparo is offering a unique experience to the young people.

“We are going to stage the fifth Russian Youth Expedition to the North Pole,”
Shparo told RT. “Kids who want to take part must be 16 to 18 years old and they must take part in skiing contests like Ski Russia 2012. We have also decided to set up an event for kids with disabilities who are just as enthusiastic and yearning to win as so called "normal" kids.”

Candidates for the North Pole expedition are selected in two phases with the first having been staged as part of an All-Russia Ski day earlier this month.

The annual “Ski Russia” event saw thousands of amateurs brave the subzero temperature across the country.

“When so many people take part in ski racing it’s always a joy,” Vitaly Mutko. Russia’s Sports Minister, stressed. “It means sport is popular in our country and more people choose a healthy way of life. It’s the 30th anniversary of the race which has a long history and good traditions. We’ve had about 25,000 participants this year – pure joy.”

Matvey Shparo’s company has been organizing skiing competitions for kids with special needs for 4 years, with 28 teams joining the action this winter to compete for the Mayor's Cup.

“It’s been a great day – so emotional,” German Alekseevsky, a physical education teacher at a special needs school, said. “We won this race last year, and hopefully we’ll defend our title this time. The kids did their best indeed and that’s thanks to very thorough training.”

Having a good time with their friends and family is what it was mostly about for the majority of the participants and achieving a winning result has taken back stage to a one of a kind winter experience.

The North Pole Skiing Expedition led by two-time Guinness World record holder, Matvey Shparo, will be staged from April 15 – 23.

The fifth edition will feature seven young men and women who will cover 100 kilometers to reach the top of the Earth and the presence of people with physical limitations is by no means a hurdle.

“When we crossed Greenland we had a guy who could not walk because of spinal paralysis,”
Shapro said. “He would sit on a special board and push himself forward with sticks. But his disability did not prevent him from cooking though. So that was his chore, while we would do something else he couldn’t do.”

So, Matvey Shparo is now down to 40 candidates, who will join him on a training course in March ahead of the North Pole skiing expedition, which will take place in April.

The group will cover the distance from the “Barneo” ice base all the way to the top of the world.

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