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Christmas brings standup paddle boarding to underprivileged children in Ho Chi Minh City

Monday, December 27, 2021, 12:16 GMT+7
Christmas brings standup paddle boarding to underprivileged children in Ho Chi Minh City
Children, accompanied by professional coaches, join a free Christmas SUP tour around District 7 in Ho Chi Minh City on December 24, 2021. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre News

As good children around the world were joyfully receiving gifts from Santa Claus, this year’s holiday was very remarkable for 13-year-old Ngoc An.

This was her first Christmas and An celebrated it in an unusual way.

Ngoc An and her older brother, Huu An, on Saturday joined a Christmas event with other underprivileged children aged 12 to 15 who were invited to learn standup paddle boarding (SUP) for free.

The children, from Quarter 4 in Tan Quy Ward in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 7, later partook in a two-hour tour on the river around the district.

They also received gifts from Santa Claus and attended a Christmas party.

Ngoc An (right) and her brother Huu An receive Christmas gifts at the event. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre News

Ngoc An (right) and her brother Huu An receive Christmas gifts inclduing learning tools and confectionery at the event. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre News

The event was jointly held by ODYSSEY Tourism Co. Ltd. and the Saigon South Marina Club complex to bring underprivileged children a memorable Christmas.

“This is the first time I’ve celebrated Christmas, received gifts, and learned to play this new type of sport,” Ngoc An, who came to the event early with her father and brother, told Tuoi Tre News.

Ngoc An (front) tries to paddle her SUP after being instructed by her coach. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre News

Ngoc An (front) tries to paddle her SUP after being instructed by her coach. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre News

Meanwhile, Huu An said that the siblings rarely go out to celebrate holidays because their parents often work night shifts.

“We usually stay at home seeing our friends celebrating Christmas every year,” Huu An said.

“But this year I’m very happy to be invited to this event where I can celebrate Christmas with a waterway trip.

“Now I finally know what a Christmas celebration is.”

It was also the first time that Hoang Vy, 15, and Dang Minh, 12, had learned to play SUP.

“I’ve always wondered how people can paddle on those boards,” Vy said.

“I was a little nervous because I can’t swim, but I was accompanied and instructed by professional coaches so I gained more confidence."

Hoang Vy (left) enjoys her first SUP tour ever with her coach. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre News

Hoang Vy (left) enjoys her first-ever SUP tour with her coach. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre News

To ensure safety, coaches accompanied the children at all times to instruct and supervise during the journey.

The participating children were required to be fully vaccinated to adhere to COVID-19 prevention measures.

Dao Le Phuong, a representative from the event’s organizing board, said he had always wanted to popularize the sport for both adults and children.

As a father himself, Phuong also felt sympathy for poor children especially during the pandemic.

“I hope to bring a little joy to children in difficult circumstances this Christmas,” he explained.

“Sitting on an SUP and riding it on a river through beautiful places offer the children new perspectives on the city they are living in, which they’ve never seen before.”

Each young paddler is accompanied by a coach to ensure safety. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre News

Each young paddler is accompanied by a coach to ensure safety. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre News

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Hoang An - Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

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