Bear Grylls flew to Hong Kong for just four hours to attend the Care for Children: Window to China charity dinner on October 24. After it was over, he got on a plane and headed back to London.
He had one aim: to help and inspire at-risk young people.
“Life is not all about academics,” Grylls told Young Post during his brief visit. “Some people are born with bigger brains, others with bigger muscles, but that’s not what really matters. Life rewards the positive, the persistent, the resourceful, the courageous, the humble, and the kind. That’s what I always tell my kids.”
The 43-year-old father of three has done more than most people could ever dream of. He climbed Mount Everest when he was 23, became a bestselling writer in Britain, Australia and the mainland, and is a world-famous TV personality and adventurer.
His TV show, Running Wild with Bear Grylls, has featured the likes of actor Zac Efron, Chinese basketball superstar Yao Ming, and former US President Barack Obama.
But Grylls is less proud of that sort of success than he is of being an ambassador for Care for Children, a charity that works with governments in Asia to look after disadvantaged children and orphans – helping hundreds of thousands of young people find new families.
“What’s remarkable is that [Care for Children] has the ability to help people on such a big scale. It’s amazing to see some charities selflessly serve a few people. But Care for Children has the ability to take that spirit and then do it across a whole nation.”
The dinner also marked the start of the Care for Children’s “five cities” project, which will see it working with institutions in five cities across the mainland: Kunming (昆明), Chengdu (成都), Xining (西寧), Datong (大同) and Yinchuan (銀川).
“Family is everything, and that’s why I feel such a connection to [Care for Children],” said Grylls. “It gives opportunities, and it teaches us the most important values in life. I didn’t learn courage or kindness when I was in school; I learned it from my family. That’s why I want more of these amazing children to be able to have families of their own.”
Grylls understands, however, that Hong Kong families aren’t always the most supportive. Parents and schools can put a lot of pressure on young people.
He had a powerful message for YP readers when they’re feeling stressed.
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“When I was a kid I was quite shy. I didn’t have a lot of confidence, I wasn’t very clever and I wasn’t good at sport. But I was always determined. I always tell my kids that it’s more important to exercise your ‘effort muscle’ than your outer muscles.
It doesn’t matter if you’re the smartest or the strongest; what matters is being able to get right back up whenever you get knocked down.
“Don’t listen to the dream- stealers and never, ever give up.”
Wrestling with crocodiles, dealing with deadly snakes and jumping out of planes with a parachute is just another day in the office for Grylls. But despite this, the former British SAS soldier says he gets scared “all the time”.
“I get nervous talking in front of a crowd or if I’m meeting someone for the first time. Everybody gets scared, but the best way to deal with your fears is to run straight through them – full speed ahead.”