Meet Devika – Video
Devika is the co-founder of Wheeling Happiness, which works to enhance the emotional health of people living with physical, emotional and social challenges in India. The foundation mobilises volunteers to carry out projects to promote a more inclusive society. These include the construction of wheelchair ramps in public places, the promotion of para-sports in schools, free counselling sessions and fundraising for the provision of artificial limbs. Wheeling Happiness is about the celebration of life, and spirit of mind, over the body.
Devika has had first hand experience of doing just this. Born with hemiplegia, a condition which causes weakness in the left side of her body, Devika won a silver medal in the long jump at the World (Para) Athletics Grand Prix, Tunis 2014. She was, she says, inspired by her mother, who is also a para-athlete. “Instead of resigning to my disability, I have drawn inspiration from my mother, converted it into a strength and led positive change and development in my society.”
Through Wheeling Happiness, Devika has found a new focus in addition to athletics. “I plan to continue with sports but it is not going to be my sole purpose. I can’t promise myself I will be at the Olympics, because I want to focus a lot of my time on the foundation. That is my first priority.” She also gained a Masters degree in psychology in 2013.
Devika is one of the first ever recipients of a Queen’s Young Leaders Award. The Award, which will be presented by Her Majesty The Queen in June, is part of The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme, and celebrates the achievements of young people who are taking the lead to transform the lives of others and make a lasting difference in the communities.