Fifteen-year-old Shakira Fredericks, of Goodwood, has been selected to join young climbers from all over the world at the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) Youth World Championships in South Korea in August.
This comes after she was awarded Protea colours by the South African National Climbing Federation, after placing 4th in the Boulder category at the national competition.
In order to compete in the championships she has to raise R63 000 to cover her flights, accommodation, meals, transport and IFSC competition fees.
Shakira has lived at Rainbow of Hope, a place of safety for abused and abandoned children, since 2011.
She was introduced to rock climbing by a former Rainbow of Hope volunteer who took her and the other children on an outing to a climbing gym. There they were approached by a representative from the Dream Higher climbing organisation, who later invited them to join their sessions.
Dream Higher is a registered non-profit and public benefit organisation founded in 2017.
The organisation’s climbing programme helps to uplift youth, many of whom have navigated tumultuous childhoods and faced regular exposure to distressing events, says Margaux Rat, Dream Higher founder.
“We believe that, in addition to assisting our youth to overcome past trauma, our work promotes inclusivity in the local climbing community, reduces gender discrimination, and builds bridges between social groups in a divided society.”
According to Ms Rat, Cape Town is a world-renowned rock-climbing destination, attracting thousands of climbers from around the world every year, but it remains inaccessible to many of its residents.
“The organisation gives kids like us who come from bad backgrounds opportunities to climb,” Shakira said. “Climbing is a really expensive sport, not everyone can afford it, so we are grateful that we get to do it for free.”
Dream Higher provides climbers with coached training sessions at indoor and outdoor climbing areas. Shakira trains twice a week at the City Rock climbing gym in Paarden Eiland or Bloc 11 in Diep River.
She enjoys spending time with her friends and coaches while also staying fit.
“You can forget about everything else and just go there and relax. If I’m going through a hard time I’ll go to the gym, clear my mind and just climb.
“Every time I climb to the top, I get really happy and have an internal celebration.”
Shakira, who is a member of the Western Cape Climbing high-performance team, said she had been shocked when her coach had phoned to say she had made it to the championships.
“Coming from the background I do, I would never have imagined myself up here, so it’s really amazing. Going to South Korea for me would be one of the best experiences,” Shakira said.
Known by her peers as Jupiter, the young climber hopes to live up to her nickname.
“Jupiter is the Roman sky-god as well as one of the biggest planets. It is at the top and I’m trying to get there, by working hard,” she said.
“I’m going there to progress and have some fun. Even if I don’t make it on the podium I want to go there, try it out and learn something new. It would really mean a lot to me.”
Rainbow of Hope project manager and house mother Alison Alexander said she was thrilled for Shakira and proud of her achievements.
“She is very hard-working. Whatever she takes on she does very well,” Ms Alexander said.
Ms Alexander will be hosting a Disney-themed picnic fund-raiser on Saturday May 27 at Rainbow of Hope. Email email@example.com or call 082 202 0720 to buy tickets. Donations can also be made through givengain.