In the vibrant city of Noida, a remarkable event recently took place that celebrated the spirit of inclusivity and athleticism. The Wheelchair Sports Event held from 1 to 7 September under the aegis of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) at the Health and Family Welfare at Nodia Indoor Stadium garnered significant attention, thanks to the impressive turnout of over 100 enthusiastic participants. This event was a part of the ongoing National Injury Prevention Week, which not only showcased the growing interest in wheelchair sports but also emphasized the importance of accessibility and inclusivity in the sports arena.
The Rise of Wheelchair Sports
The popularity of wheelchair sports has been on the rise globally in recent years. These sports provide individuals with disabilities a platform to showcase their talent and determination, breaking down barriers and stereotypes. Wheelchair sports promote inclusivity, highlighting the fact that everyone can participate in and enjoy sports, regardless of their physical abilities.
Noida: A Hub for Inclusive Sports
Noida has emerged as a hub for inclusive sports, with a strong commitment to providing equal opportunities to all. The city has consistently hosted a range of inclusive sports events, encouraging individuals with disabilities to actively engage in physical activities and competitive sports.
The Wheelchair Sports Event featured an exciting array of sports, from wheelchair basketball to track and field events. The participants displayed remarkable skills, dedication, and sportsmanship throughout the competition. Notable moments of the event are Nikhil Gupta was a 25-year-old software engineer when he suffered a spinal cord injury that left him quadriplegic. However, Gupta refused to let his disability define him and instead, he turned to wheelchair rugby and became an international champion. Gupta was part of a team of national and international players who held an exhibition match to commemorate Spinal Cord Injury Day as part of the ongoing National Injury Prevention Week (September 1-7) at Noida Indoor Stadium.
Participant Stories at Wheelchair Sports Event in Noida
Behind the scenes, there were inspiring stories of determination and passion. Many participants overcame significant challenges to excel in their chosen sports. Their stories serve as a testament to the power of resilience and the transformative impact of sports on individuals' lives. One such story is of Mr. Gupta who said “Initially, I felt like I had lost everything after my accident But during therapy, I discovered this game of wheelchair rugby, which was only being played as recreation at that time. But I decided to take it further and in 2014, founded the federation and have represented India at three international tournaments.” Another story is 23-year-old Sooraj Gautam said that he thoroughly enjoyed the hurdle race. “In May 2020, the roof of our house collapsed, and my spine got injured, leaving me wheelchair-bound. I used to dream of becoming a dancer, but right now I am not sure what I will do in my life. I am only focused on taking therapy so I can walk again someday,” said Gautam, who is a resident of Bhadohi and takes therapy at a Neuro Rehabilitation center called ‘Mission Walk’ in Greater Noida, which provides therapy to survivors coming from lower-economic backgrounds at affordable fees.
Inclusivity and Accessibility
The organizers of the event took significant steps to ensure that it was accessible to all. The event also featured high-energy cultural dance performances and wheelchair stunts by professionals. Ramps, accessible seating, and designated parking spaces were just a few of the measures implemented to accommodate participants and attendees with disabilities. Such efforts underscore the vital role of accessible facilities in promoting inclusivity. While the whole event took place in physical mode at Noida, it was streamed virtually in other cities including Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Cuttack, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Patna, and Bhopal.
The success of the Wheelchair Sports Event in Noida would not have been possible without the generous support of various organizations, sponsors, and dedicated volunteers. Their contributions not only made the event a reality but also demonstrated their commitment to empowering the disabled community.
Impact of the Event
The positive impact of the event extended beyond the competition. Participants and attendees alike shared their heartfelt testimonials, emphasizing the newfound confidence, friendships, and sense of belonging they gained through their involvement. This event has undoubtedly left a lasting imprint on the community.
Future of Wheelchair Sports in Noida
The success of this Wheelchair Sports Event has opened the doors for more inclusive sports events in Noida. Organizers are enthusiastic about expanding and improving future events, providing even greater opportunities for individuals with disabilities to shine on the sports stage.
In conclusion, the Wheelchair Sports Event in Noida was a resounding success, celebrating inclusivity, athleticism, and community support. This event serves as a shining example of how sports can break down barriers, inspire individuals, and create a more inclusive and accessible world for all. As Noida continues to champion the cause of inclusivity in sports, the future of wheelchair sports in the city looks promising and exciting.