Edmonton woman conquers Great Wall of China in wheelchair

[Kuen Tang, a woman crippled by an accident in 2003, hopes to break down barriers by wheeling herself across the Great Wall of China. Photo: Getty Images]

When Edmonton woman Kuen Tang visited China last year, she was saddened by the lack of accessibility for the disabled.

Tang is quadriplegic.

So she came up with a solution: Wheel the Great Wall of China.

At the age of 23 Tang was injured when her vehicle careened off a cliff on the Coquihalla highway in British Columbia. That was in 2003. Since then she’s earned her bachelor’s degree in education, skydived, played rugby and even skied.

Though she’s proved to herself that pretty much anything is possible from a wheelchair, Tang was not convinced that people with disabilities in China felt the same way. During a trip to the country in 2015, she did not see one person in a wheelchair outside.

“It’s difficult for them to dream big when for thousands of years people with disabilities are hidden away from the society, viewed as totally dependent, and trapped in the vicious cycle of ‘can’t’,” Tang wrote in her blog.

So Tang made a decision: She would wheel the Great Wall in an effort to help break that cycle.

[Kuen Tang ended up wheeling her chair through 500m of the Great Wall. Photo: kuentang.com]

Tang trained for a year, working out on local hills and taking some time out to recover from surgery, reports Global News. When she arrived in Bejing in September of this year, Tang discovered that she would have to wheel for two kilometers uphill just to reach the Great Wall ticket booth.

The wall itself was steep and rocky, but Tang dug down deep and in the end managed to wheel 500 metres of the wall.

Tang’s Great Wall trip coincides with the 30th anniversary of Canadian Rick Hansen’s iconic Man in Motion World Tour. In a note to Tang shared with Global News, Hansen expressed his admiration for her determination and accomplishment:

“Your solidarity towards our common dream, which is a world without barriers and to liberate the amazing potential of people with disabilities is truly commendable. You’ve demonstrated great ability and the Great Wall that was once a barrier is now a symbol of possibilities.”

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