CNN International

Meet the Fearless Dragons, a running club like no other
By: Alisha Haridasani, CNN
Updated 0456 GMT (1256 HKT) January 5, 2015
(Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2015/01/04/intl_world/fearless-dragons-hong-kong/index.html on 12 Jan 2015)

Editor’s Note:
Everyday ordinary people do extraordinary things. CNN's Above & Beyond series highlights the lives of individuals across Asia who dedicate themselves to helping others, fighting prejudice and making their communities better places to live.


Hong Kong (CNN)It's an unusually cold December evening in Hong Kong. At this particular running track, only a few dedicated runners are braving the frigid temperatures -- a couple of high-school sprinters, an old man shuffling along, a middle-aged man who just changed out of his suit and tie for a post-work run.

Among this cluster of fitness enthusiasts are the Fearless Dragons -- all of them dressed in black uniforms, running together, completely in sync.

From afar, any ordinary bystander would never have guessed that the Fearless Dragons are in fact made up of blind runners paired up with deaf runners and a few "guide runners" who help ensure the team stays on track.

Formed just four years ago, this remarkable running team of almost 60 runners has already competed in marathons around the world including Kyoto, Shanghai, Australia's Gold Coast, Seoul and Taipei in addition to local Hong Kong races.

"The major objective of the Fearless Dragons is to raise the public awareness of persons with specific needs," says Kim Mok, founder of the running team. "We want to provide a platform for people with disability to realize their potential."

Mok completely lost his own vision when he was 13.

In 1999, one of Mok's closest friends who was also completely blind committed suicide because of immense feelings of social isolation and discrimination. "I said to myself, one day I will do something for the community and do my best to allow disabled persons to live a fulfilled life."

Back then, those with disabilities could hardly rely on the government to help them integrate into society. "In 1980s or early 1990s, the Equal Opportunities commission was not even established," explains Mok. Furthermore, people with disabilities were only allowed to complete Form 3 level of education. "Only those who came first or elite students were admitted to normal schools."

Fortunately, after the government signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, things have changed for the better over the years and there have been many efforts ever since to create a barrier-free environment.

However, one area of improvement remains: there is little support for the children of parents with disabilities who may not have any disabilities themselves. "It leads to a vicious cycle of poverty," says Mok.

The Fearless Dragons team is part of Mok's larger initiative called the Hong Kong Network for the Promotion of Inclusive Society that -- among its many other programs -- has set up an education fund for those children.

The team runs races to raise money for this fund that in turn helps counsel the children and provides them with appropriate home tutors when necessary.
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