Pupils’ Andes trek challenge

Pupils from Heckmondwike Grammar School are going to Argentina. (d24021208)
Pupils from Heckmondwike Grammar School are going to Argentina. (d24021208)

A TEENAGE girl is preparing to take part in a gruelling Andes trek less than two years after enduring a major spinal operation.

Olivia Beecher, 16, is travelling with 16 other Heckmondwike Grammar School pupils to Argentina in July, where they will trek through the Andes for nine days, before a five day stint working in a village on building and renovation projects and helping in schools.

Then they will go on to spend four days enjoying fun outdoor activities.

In July 2010 Olivia had an eight hour operation to correct a curvature in her spine caused by scoliosis and kyphosis.

Following the operation, which left her with two titanium rods and 12 screws in her spine, she had to learn how to walk again – but was back at school full time after three months.

Olivia has now made a full recovery and even stands 3ins taller, but expects the trek will be challenging.

She said: “I have been doing a lot of walking to prepare so I don’t think it will cause me too many problems. And we will have mules to help us carry our bags!”

The pupils have to raise £3,695 each to take part and have been organising fundraising events.

Olivia said she would be climbing Helvellyn in the Lake District and the Yorkshire Three Peaks to raise money.

Other pupils taking part in the challenge said they were looking forward to a sense of achievement from overcoming challenges, learning about a different culture, becoming more independent by learning how to manage money, food and transport, gaining teamwork skills, and having new experiences and pushing themselves out of their comfort zones.

Teacher Phil Cowling said: “This expedition is one of a wide range of trips that shows that the school is committed to the out of classroom experience for pupils. Developing skills such as leadership, teamwork and self reflection in unique environments is very important for the school, as well providing the excellent academic opportunities we are known for.”

Olivia still has about £2,000 to go towards the cost of her challenge.

To sponsor her Three Peaks walk, email janet.beecher@btinternet.com.