Chepstow girl with cerebral palsy climbed Mount Kilimanjaro during school holidays
6:01pm Thursday 19th September 2013 in News
MOST nine-year-olds might spend their summer holidays splashing in the paddling pool, playing computer games, or wiling away the time until school starts again.
But not Dell School pupil Amirah Peckham, from Chepstow, who not only travelled with her family to Tanzania during the summer break, but also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro - possibly the youngest person ever to do so.
Amirah, who made the trip of a lifetime with her father Mike, 51, mother Lizzie, 52, and her elder brother Ashraf, 12, has cerebral palsy, but this hasn't stopped the youngster in the past from ascending Mount Kinabalu in Borneo, and Toubkal, North Africa's highest peak.
With two experienced climbers and former guides as parents, the Welsh disabled gymnastics champion took the 5,900-metre ascent in her stride, said father Mike, whose daughter lives every day with cognitive learning difficulties as a result of a third of her brain being inactive.
The family spent five days ascending 42 kilometres up the mountain, taking two days to get off the summit, and received comments from their local guides about how well-prepared they were.
Amirah went across the mountain's crater while brother Ashraf climbed its wall, known as the Western Breach, and is the youngest boy to do so, his parents believe.
"For both Amirah and Ashraf there were no other children on the hill, not at all, and many people couldn't believe Amirah was walking it - you're supposed to be 10," said Mr Peckham.
"For Amirah it's twice as hard as for other people to climb but she still gets on with it, as long as you hold her hand and tell her stories, but if the story is too exciting she will stop walking to listen.
"The children's spirit was fantastic, they were never grumpy, and we didn't do this to set a record. It's about being together as a family and we're so proud of them."
The family also went on safari before making a 10-hour bus journey to the Timboni Clinic in Kenya, through a link at the Chepstow Methodist Church, digging a vegetable garden for women with HIV.
"If there's a lasting legacy from the work we've done in Africa, it's 'don't leave any food on the plate'. The children know the friends they've made don't have a choice."
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