Parasports February 23, 2020
Meet Manoj R, the visually impaired child to swim across Kerala’s Periyar river
11-year-old Manoj R, a visually impaired youngster from Kerala swam across the Periyar River last week. He completed the task in less than forty minutes. Manoj, who has proven that nothing is impossible with a disability, is a true inspiration to many aspiring swimmers who are visually impaired.
John Keywood has said, ‘Nothing is impossible to a willing heart’. For-11-year-old Manoj R who is visually impaired, swimming across the Periyar River was something he always wanted to do. The youngster finally did that with the help of his swimming instructor Saji Valasseril. Hundreds of people watched him achieve this milestone and cheer him on.
Journey towards Manoj’s dream
Periyar River is one of the longest rivers in India. Manoj, a student at Aluva Blind School, started taking swimming lessons a few years back. Saji started teaching blind people in 2010.
I started off with four students. Later, their friends also joined in. I am teaching these children free of cost. My only demand is that parents must help me ensure the child’s safety by bringing an ambulance and rescue boats which must come handy if needed. – Saji Valasseril, Swimming coach
Manoj’s attempt was flagged off by Swami Swaroopananda Swamikal who is the head of Advaita Ashram. He started the swim at 8.10 AM and reached the finishing point at 8.40 am.
A true idol
Manoj’s feat will definitely motivate many other blind people to take up swimming. He has shown that with the right attitude, it is possible. Manoj’s inspiration is his senior in school called Navaneeth, who was the first blind person to swim across Periyar in 2015. His father Ramesh Gangadharan said to The New Indian Express, “What he did is an inspiration to many. I m sure he can achieve whatever he dreams in his life”.
Watch in Sign Language
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