It was a fantastic opportunity to be a part of the Adventure Beyond Barriers Annual Gathering over the weekend (Jan 5), truly inspirational souls with a fab sense of humour!
The event was hosted by the warm and humble Aparna Prabhudesai, she conquered Mt Everest after doctors said she would never walk without support. https://yourstory.com/2017/07/aparna-prabhudesai-conquest-mt-everest-odds-wheelchair/
The founder, Divyanshu Ganatra, India’s first blind solo paraglider, drives inclusive adventure sports for people with and without disabilities. Their annual Manali to Khardung La inclusive tandem cycling expedition is a big hit. Some of them even climbed the highest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro. The community is into swimming, scuba diving, marathons, etc. https://yourstory.com/2018/02/divyanshu-ganatra-blind-solo-paraglider/
While addressing the audience, the Vice-Captain of the Maharashtra Wheelchair Cricket Team asked how many of us knew about Wheelchair Cricket India (WCI) and that they too have their Indian Premier Leagues, the first ever was won by their team. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/cricket/news/indian-heelchair-cricket-team-spreads-wings/articleshow/64023220.cms
Shalini Saraswathi, the Indian Blade Runner is inspiration beyond boundaries, from being a patient of multiple organ failures to the participant of 10k marathon pointed out that people with specs is also a disability but how many organizations have a diversity metric that shows the headcount of people hired with specs? Unless People with disability (PWD) also becomes the norm, inclusion is miles away. https://beaninspirer.com/inspiration-no-boundaries-story-shalini-saraswathi-indian-blade-runner/
Finally, everyone in the audience thoroughly enjoyed the PHD IITian Rockstar Tony Kurian’s tongue in cheek remarks and sarcasm. He started his speech saying yes, I am blind, and I was born like this. His most hilarious one was how he started to discover his body and started to fall in love with his own body only after joining ABBF events and as the audience laughed, he said bodies are very important my friends, from boardrooms to bedrooms. While we focus so much on our image and care about our looks and style, he said I can’t see myself, but I am sexy, and I know it ☺️ He and his friend have started sound ball tennis for blind and partially sighted people in Mumbai. https://medium.com/skin-stories/bodyimage-e7a77aae5f0
At the closing of the gathering, it was a delight to listen to the 11-year old blind girl’s song, she performed with the professional band Easy Wanderlings and did an amazing job! https://easywanderlings.com/
Each one of them said they really didnt care what people choose to address them as, PWD, people with special abilities, blind, disabled, handicapped or whatever, the only thing they want is to be treated as equals, as normal people.
Many idioms were brought to life with every PWD addressing the crowd, their achievements, their dreams, their fearless attitude touched my heart, I literally had tears of joy ☺️
P.S.: This post was first published on LinkedIn and was widely appreciated on both LinkedIn and Facebook and by ABBF who published it on their social media channels too. This is my first article of 2019 so a great start to the new year 🙂