Devika Malik to receive Queen’s Young Leaders Award
When struggles of life become an inspiration to do something for others, then success is not a hard destination to reach.
Devika Malik surely proves the above line true to the core. She is a para-athlete, who despite being a congenital hemiplegic has taken step towards making lives of differently-abled people, active and happy. It is due to indulging in sports that she could look at her life very differently than what most people with disability cannot. And of course, her parents have been a big support all the way through. And now, she has been selected as one of the Queen’s Young Leaders Award winners from across all the Commonwealth Nations for her contribution to Para-sports and specially-able people through Wheeling Happiness Foundation.
Her mother, who since 16 years is paraplegic, is her inspiration because she made her disability, her strength through sports and has also won national award for sports in 2012. “My mother has been into car rallying, biking and other sports, she would always meet people who would want to know that how they can do things within the capacity. We would help them out on an individual level and that is when we thought that we can help people with the information we have. So, that is how the foundation came into picture.”
Devika’s vision is to assimilate specially-abled people with normal people through recreational activities and sports. And also, to raise funds for equipment and facility that people with disability might need. “Honestly, when we deal with people on a personal level, we feel and understand that people are quite sensitized and informed about disability. However, there is still a large section of the society which believes that disability is the result of what one has done in their past life, so yes, a lot of work is still left to do.
For now our organization is only working in-and-around Delhi, NCR and has organized workshops with school children in Meerut, Agra and Jaipur and other smaller cities. We have organized a lot of events wherein so far 100-150 people with challenges have participated in activities that we do. Plus, there would be about 30 people whom we have reached out for donation of funds or major equipments and also, we have been able to reach out to a lot of people through workshops, where we aim to sensitize people towards disability. So, all in all, we have met and spoken to 800-900 people so far.”
Talking about her being awarded Queen’s Young Leaders Award, she said, “This award was coincidental and it is the first time that such kind of an award is happening. One of my mentors told me about it and that I should be giving it a try. It was a long process but I am really happy that I could make it. It is a huge step and a recognition which makes us realize that we are working in the right direction and something which would make a difference. I would be getting the award from queen on 22nd of June, so, I am really looking forward to it.”
Devika is also an alumnus of Youth Leadership Program organized by the United Nations Office of Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) and was recently invited to London to deliver a talk at the Commonwealth Secretariat on the occasion of International Day of Sport for Development and Peace 2015. Currently, Devika is the Asian Representative of Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Working Group under the Commonwealth Secretariat. Apart from her different goals of making the infrastructure inclusive for disabled, she also wants to pursue PHD or post-graduation diploma in Sports psychology to be able to counsel coaches and sportsmen for emotional strength.
The Queen’s Young Leader Award would be given to 60 people and all of them come from different backgrounds who are contributing towards different causes. “Our agenda is to promote wellness of people with or without disability, through sports. So, this has dragged a lot of attention towards the para-sports in India and the awareness is growing and commuting across places. And since this award is given to people under 30, one of the focuses of this award is also to motivate the youth to contribute for change.”
The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, in partnership with Comic Relief and The Royal Commonwealth Society has established the Queen’s Young Leaders Programme in honor of Her Majesty’s long and continued service to the Commonwealth. The Programme aims to discover, celebrate and support the achievements of young people, who have overcome personal challenges to serve their communities and proved themselves to be inspiring leaders.
Each award winner will receive their award from Her Majesty at the Buckingham Palace on 22nd June 2015. A short – term online diploma in Leadership has also been designed by Cambridge University exclusively for the Queen’s Young Leaders.
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