Best friends can turn as co-founders of a venture over the time. But rarely will you find a mother and daughter being the co-founders of a social start-up. “Wheeling Happiness”, founded by Deepa Malik and her daughter Devika Malik is a source of inspiration for all.
Wheel of happiness
Wheeling Happiness works on enhancing the emotional health of people who face physical and social challenges in India. Based out of Delhi, the team work independently as well as in partnership with organizations to introduce persons with disabilities to para – sports as a rehabilitative measure, to provide assistive devices to enable movement so that these people can easily engage in activities they enjoy. They identify needy people by visiting urban – rural areas of the city, by associating with other organizations and make use of word-of-mouth publicity.
The organization strongly works on increasing the self esteem and recognition of people with challenges. Awareness sessions are conducted in institutions to sensitize youngsters about disability & accessibility. In addition to it, the co – founders regularly appear on various media platforms as well as leverage social media to advance awareness and advocacy towards inclusion & accessibility for persons with challenges.
Devika puts it, “I hope our efforts bring about a shift in this universal mind-set and drive people to view persons with challenges as truly valuable and empowered citizens of the world, not just objects of pity.”
Born into a family of army officers, Devika had congenital hemiplegia which had enabled her to develop a sensitized world view since her young age. At 25 years of age, she holds a profile that is enough to inspire anyone to forget the disabilities and work efficiently for their dreams.
While being a psychological counselor professionally, she is an acclaimed international para-athlete. She was the silver medal winner at World Athletics Grand Prix, Tunis 2014 and also secured two international medals at the World Athletics Grand Prix, Arizona 2016. She is an active contributor to the Olympic Truce Peace Campaign as well as an alumnus of the Youth Leadership Program conducted by the United Nations Office of Sport for Development & Peace (UNOSDP) in Tokyo. She is also the Asian Representative on the Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development & Peace (CYSDP) Working Group, which consists of a total of 12 individuals selected from all 53 Commonwealth Nations.
For Devika, her mother is the biggest inspiration. She says, “Since the tender age of 8 years, I have watched and learnt from my mother coping with her disability being a paraplegic herself. This motivation drove me to combat and overcome my challenges with the same vigor and also to be of service to other people struggling with a myriad of challenges like disability, lack of infrastructural facilities, depression, gender discrimination and poverty.”
Devika was awarded Queen’s Young Leader Award in the year 2015 from Queen Elizabeth II while her mother Deepa got National Role Model award from President of India in 2014.
Thought to ponder
Here is Devika’s message to the world, “We all have strengths and shortcomings; we should spend less time judging others & more time enabling them however we can. The difference between disability and inability lies in our mindsets.”