Twenty students from Social Welfare schools from across the State were selected for the mountaineering expedition

From a remote village in Tondur mandal of Kadapa district, Bharathi, daughter of a farm labourer, made it to the Himalayas.

Never in her dreams could she imagine herself on an expedition to the Himalayas and conquering Mount Renock at a height of 17,000 feet in Kanchenjunga.

A surgery following a head injury earlier did not deter her from taking up the expedition. And, like her, 12 other students from A.P. Social Welfare Residential Schools were part of the team that set out for the Himalayas.

Twenty students, including 10 boys and girls, were selected for the expedition after screening 110 students from various Social Welfare schools from across the State. Two ninth standard students, Poorna from Tadvai of Nizamabad and Mohan Prasad from Centre of Excellence, Vishakapatnam, are the youngest in the team.

First attempt

This is the first time such a large team comprising young students was sent to scale the Himalayas. Generally, the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute does not permit candidates below 17 years to scale such heights.

“It was a risky option, but the fitness and aptitude of these children encouraged us to send them to the peaks,” said Shekhar Babu, noted mountaineer and chief trainer of the team.

He scaled the four highest peaks in the world, including Mount Everest, and trained the team members at Bhongir in Nalgonda district.

A.P. Social Welfare Residential Schools launched the first ever mountaineering expedition under the code name, ‘Op-Everest’. The aim was to ignite the spirit of adventure and exploration in young minds, besides reforming its classrooms.

It helps in the holistic development of students, besides promoting sports as a serious career opportunity, said Raymond Peter, Principal Secretary, Social Welfare Development.

“With the help of the new SC Sub Plan Act, we hope to achieve many more scholastic and non-scholastic peaks in the days to come and redefine our identity,” said R.S. Praveen Kumar, Secretary, AP Social Welfare Residential Schools.

The team members will return to Hyderabad on November 20. Soon after they reach the capital, they will undergo rigorous training for four months before setting out for the expedition again in summer.

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