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DB’s Guardian Angels

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Seven DB ladies are competing in the Hong Kong-wide Angels for Orphans 2016 Fitness Challenge, improving their health and fitness and raising money for children in Bali at the same time. Katie Scott reports.

It’s not every day that you get an email from an angel, and the chief angel at that. Suzanne Sadler is the Hong Kong leader of the charity, Angels for Orphans, a big-hearted not-for-profit which partners up with other charities, from Bali to the US, and raises money to support their work.

For its Angels for Orphans 2016 Fitness Challenge, the charity has enlisted the help of six coaches across Hong Kong, including DB fitness trainer Claire Mas. These fitness pros have volunteered their time to train the (mostly female) teams to hit their personal fitness aims. The 53 participants are driven by the support of their team, motivated by their trainer and have the shared goal of raising sponsorship money for the charity.

Training with Claire

The eight-week challenge kicked off on April 17, and Claire was there to get to know the DB teams. She tested their endurance, took their measurements and then formulated her plan as to how to get them trim and healthy. “My hope is to motivate people who perhaps aren’t training at the moment and for whom the charity is a draw,” Claire says. “The people who contacted me are time poor and the incentive is the programme. It’s not about weight loss but about improving yourself.”

The DB contingent is made up of Jo Pilcher and Alison Price (Mission Slimpossible) and Katy Day, Rosalia Pico, Katie-Louise Daly, Candida Clemmow and Tania Pickett (Weapons of Mas Reduction).

Claire is currently holding one training session per week, but with the option to add more. “For the group training, the programme will depend upon the current fitness level of the participants, any injuries and medical conditions,” she explains. “Ultimately though, we need to hit all of the assessment targets.”

Everyone is working towards the final assessment on June 11, at which the DB teams will get to show off the fruits of their endeavours. And the seven ladies will, hopefully, feel all the better for it. As Claire says: “The charity promotes health and happiness – we need to practise what we preach.”

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About the charity

Founded in 2009 by Helen Whitman, who now lives in the UK, Suzanne recounts that the Angels’ work began when they came across a book by Geraldine Cox, the founder of Sunrise Cambodia. Geraldine runs an orphanage in Kandal province, Cambodia but now also helps with family support and sustainable development across the country.

Alison Price, who is competing in the fitness challenge this year for DB’s Mission Slimpossible, first got involved with the Angels because she was moved by Geraldine’s work. “I collaborated on the Angels for Orphans Cycling to Stop the Traffik challenge from Saigon to Siem Reap three years ago,” she says. “There were five DB residents amongst the 12 riders, who embarked on the 550-kilometre ride, raising funds for victims of sexual slavery and human trafficking.”

The connection with Bali Kids – the organisation that the fitness event is raising funds for – came about after Suzanne visited with her children. In particular, the Angels are supporting an education initiative that will spread the word about the dangers of smoking. Bali Kids hopes to reach 5,000 children in the first year of the campaign using educational booklets.

“We always start small with helping and we always make sure that there is transparency and good governance,” Suzanne says. “The secure knowledge that the funds we send go to exactly what they have been requested for, is very reassuring. Both Bali Kids and Sunrise Cambodia have a connection with AusAid and I know, from my previous experience managing another international NGO, that they have to jump through lots of hoops to obtain status with that organisation.”

A third charity that the Angels support – New Hope – provides help for children living with HIV/ AIDS and works with the Clinton Foundation in the US. However, there is also a local beneficiary – Po Leung Kuk, a leading Hong Kong social service organisation and fundraiser. The Angels support its after-school development programme for kids aged three to 18, which provides activities including sports, music, arts and tutorials.

Raising funds

Suzanne hopes that the Angels for Orphans Fitness Challenge could become an annual, if not bi-annual, happening on the charity’s fundraising calendar, which also boasts zumbathons, marathons, coffee mornings and dinners. Its continued popularity seems certain in DB, which has long been an Angels’ hotbed. This year, DBers Maria Brusuelas and Emilie Clairet Zin, who work directly with the charity, are on hand to provide Claire and the DB teams with any help they might need.

Claire encourages residents to support either of the Discovery Bay teams or an individual, and she has set up her own online giving page to raise money to contribute towards her teams’ totals. For those who are ready for a challenge themselves, perhaps get involved in the fitness drive next time. For others, tending towards a more sedate response to this read, there are numerous other ways to provide support, whether with your time or money.

An Angel’s motivation

DB resident Katie-Louise Daly is a member of Weapons of Mas Reduction, one of the two DB teams currently training with Claire. She has this to say about her aims and motivation in signing up for the Angels for Orphans 2016 Fitness Challenge.

“I’d been wanting to get back on the health and fitness bandwagon for a while, especially with my imminent summer wedding. However, being left to my own devices just wasn’t working for me – it was too easy to make excuses. When I heard about the fitness challenge, I knew that this was exactly what I needed to get me where I wanted to be: feeling physically fit and making healthy choices regarding food and nutrition, without feeling like I am depriving myself. The team aspect really appealed to me also – knowing there are other people in the same boat is great motivation. The fact that it was also an opportunity to raise money for a worthy cause was the clincher.

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“The programme is a great incentive as it’s a win-win for everyone. When I researched Bali Kids, I was horrified to read about the daily struggles that young children have to face in Bali through lack of education and knowledge. As a passionate Early Years educator at Discovery Bay International School, I believe that all children have the right to be aware of how to make informed choices about self-care and healthy practices. Reading the statistics about the smoking rates among children in Bali made me want to make a difference. What better way to do that than raise money to kick-start an advertising programme to warn young people in Bali about the dangers of smoking and how it affects their health.

“My aim is to raise enough money to make a difference, however small. Regarding the health and fitness aspect, I am working towards getting to a point where I don’t think twice about making the best choices for my body, as well as feeling strong and healthy.”

Find it:

• Angels for Orphans, www.facebook.com/angels4orphans.hk, www.angelsfororphans.co.uk

• Claire’s online giving page, http://simplygiving.com/clairemasfitness

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