Charitable pupils get hiking boots on

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 December, 2008, 12:00am

Caveman suits and military uniforms were just a couple of the funky outfits paraded by 229 international school students as they trekked around Hong Kong Island to raise money for autistic children.

With the option to trek the full 50km or just 25km, the students started from The Peak's Galleria and ended at Big Wave Bay.

The Rainbow Trek has been a tradition at Island School for four years. Students participating in the trek raise funds for the Rainbow Project, a non-profit organisation for autistic students.

But this year they were joined by students from South Island School, Chinese International School and King George V School.

Some 112 students completed the half trek and 117 finished the full trail.

The fastest solo trekker to finish the 50km walk was Hugh Rowland, a Year 12 Island School student who arrived at the finish line in six hours and two minutes. The fastest team was a squad of four Year 13 Island School boys who made it in six hours and 32 minutes - both were new records.

Zoe Wong, a Rainbow Trek chairwoman this year, said they hoped to promote an awareness of autism, and educate people on ways to work with autistic children and adults apart from raising money.

'There is a real shortage of provision for young people with special educational needs and yet the demand is growing rapidly,' she said.

Students have so far raised about HK$400,000 but are continuing to collect money before they break off for the Christmas holidays.

Having raised HK$800,000 last year Zoe said this year had been challenging despite the youngsters' hard work.

'The financial crisis gripping the world has left its mark. Banks have been the Rainbow Trek's major supporters in the past, so it's not surprising that we have a lot more work to do this year,' the Year 13 Island School student said.

Money raised this year will go towards equipping the Rainbow Project Learning Centre in Sai Ying Pun. The centre, funded by last year's Rainbow Trek, aims to provide facilities and resources for students with special educational needs.