Virtual marathon by Walk on Wheels helps over 100 wheelchair users beat lockdown blues
From work to studies, everything has gone online during the coronavirus pandemic. But the lockdown has also made many people feeling down and depressed. To encourage people in wheelchairs to get moving and active, a virtual marathon was organised by Walk on Wheels.
Ginni Gursaaz, 34, has always wanted to take part in sporting events held for people with disabilities. But there are too many events like these organised in Patiala, where she lives. When she read about a virtual marathon being organised by Walk on Wheels (WoW), she did not think twice about signing up.
“I have seen disabled people taking part in marathons and other sporting events and wanted to take part too”, says Ginni, who is a wheelchair user. “The virtual marathon was an opportunity to finally fulfil that dream”.
WoW founders Surpiya Kaushik and Narendra Mishra are wheelchair users too.
We work to promote greater physical fitness and activity among wheelchair users and other types of disabilities. Due to this pandemic, people with disabilities are trapped in their homes. This leads to a lot of negativity and we wanted to reach out. – Supriya Kaushik, Co-founder, Walk on Wheels
Participants free to choose time
The virtual marathon, held on 12 July, brought together over 100 wheelchair users from different part of India, including Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand and Bihar. “We did not fix any time and left it to participants to choose depending on their convenience and lockdown rules”, says Narendra, a government schoolteacher in Raipur, Chhattisgarh. “All we wanted was for them to follow adequate safety measures and send us videos and photos taking part”.
This flexibility in time was a big draw for Ashish Srivastava, a participant from Champaran, Bihar. “I have participated in many marathons, but the timing is fixed for the morning. Here, I could do the marathon in my wheelchair whenever convenient. Besides, it was free”. Ashish did 4.5 kilometres and says he will sign up for the next one when it’s held. “It felt wonderful to be a part of the event as so many took part”. Another participant Deepak Kumar, a government sector employee in Delhi, called the idea unique. “There was a lot of creativity in this initiative and I liked that”.
Ginni says she was pleasantly surprised by her performance. “I did not think I would be able to go beyond one kilometre”. As it turned out her timing was much better at 4 kilometres. “My brother accompanied me and timed my run. I shared the video and photos like the other participants”.
Happy with the response, Narendra and Supriya plan to organise more marathons. “We are happy people took this seriously and shared photos and videos. Many people have thanked us because they finally got to get out of their homes”, says Supriya.
The next marathon, adds Narendra, will be more inclusive. “There are many people with mobility issues in their hands and fingers and we want to include them as well”.
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